First of all, if you are finding yourself in a caregiver role for a family member, I’m sorry. I’m going to share eight tips for family caregivers, much of it from my father, who took care of my mother with dementia for almost 20 years. I witnessed this and can understand the stages that one goes through along with their loved one. I don’t think I can get through writing this article without being stirred, thinking of the incredible dedication my father, Larry Schutt, exhibited in taking care of my mother, Nancy. She passed away last June and that is when this site was born.
November is National Family Caregivers month so we celebrate YOU, family caregivers! It has to be one of the most difficult jobs one can ever have. Not only are you taking care of the physical and emotional needs of your loved one, but you also need to take care of yourself. Having come to this point doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prolong the life and improve the health of your loved one. Just be sure to take as good of care of yourself as you do for them. They want you to. My father says, “They worry about you too”.
So here we go…Dad’s tips:
- Keep humor in your lives. Dad was always quick to add a joke or tease and kept her laughing. What a great way to be.
- Dad says: “You have to be responsible for yourself, #1, so you can be responsible for others. Keep a balanced diet in front of your loved one, but do it for yourself too. It’s so easy to ignore yourself”.
- Ask for help. If you need a break, ask other family members, clergy, friends or accept help from respite care. You’re a hardy soul but you can’t go down with the ship.
- Look for things that aren’t prescriptions (supplements and foods) for overall health and that can help brain function. This site has Lots of articles on supplements and diet tips for brain health. Some supplements can be sprinkled on food or mixed in with beverages.
- Try to keep your family member involved in their world of familiar places and family that make them feel comfortable. Unfamiliar places can be frightening to a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s confusing. My father continued to take my mother to church because she loved the music and the people. He got her all gussied up, jewelry and all and people would tell her how beautiful she looked. It was a huge boost to both of them. I used to kid him he turned into a ‘fashionista’. lol. As long as she could walk or get in the car with help, they were out and about to local places and events. Loved one can’t feed themselves or eats with their hands? So what!? Go out to eat (if you can). I used to just enjoy seeing my mother enjoy whatever she was eating or doing.
- Even so, it’s devastating. Caregivers and the family grieve the loss of the abilities of their loved one. It’s like a very long grieving process. Each time there is a loss of an ability, it adds another layer of grief. Don’t discount this. Get counseling, talk to people. Talk to clergy or a leader of your faith. Make sure you don’t feel alone. The Alzheimer’s Association has online and offline support groups. Check it out. If you caretake for other reasons, there are organizations that can help. Reach out.
- Stay mindful of the good things in life. Take moments to look at the trees. The birds. The sky. Whatever brings you peace and clear-headedness. Read the article The Mindful Habit, link below.
- Watch out for depression. If you think you’re getting depressed, see your physician. But there are also many supplements that can help here at mywellbrain. Taking these to avoid depression is a good idea.
So much more is known these days about natural ways to prevent and treat brain issues and diseases. These could help to maintain or prolong the life of a person who has later stage dementia or Alzheimer’s. And take good care of yourself too. Take care of your brain.
I hope these 8 Tips for Caregivers helped. You are appreciated, mostly by the person you are caring for, even if they can’t tell you.
Leave any comments, your tips or questions below, please. I’d love to hear from you.