My caregiving is wearing me out. What can I do?

 

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I love my mom dearly but some days can be such a challenge. She has Alzheimer’s, and I’m afraid of the toll it’s taking on my health, my family, on everything! What can I do?

It’s not easy, we understand. When every day can be so different, it’s natural for a caregiver to take a back seat to their loved one and put themselves second.

The truth is, caregiving can be tough work. The emotional and physical demands involved can strain even the most resilient person. But you need to take care of yourself. After all, the healthier a caregiver is the better able they are to support others.

“You can do just about anything as a caregiver, but you can’t do everything,” Galyn Corneby advises. Galyn speaks from experience—she is a long-time Benchmark associate and winner of our 2016 Compassionate Caregiver Award. She shared a few of her tips.

“It’s ok to ask for help when you need it.” Everyone needs help sometimes. It can be as simple as having someone help pick up the groceries, make a meal, or stop by for a visit.

“Eat good, healthy foods.” Avoid grab-and-go mealtimes. If you’re going to build resiliency, good nutrition is one of the keys. Try to eat foods that have a lot of vitamins and minerals in them, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-or nonfat dairy.

“Up your exercise.” What? Who has time!?! But here at Benchmark, we like to call it ‘Multi-tasking Fitness’. While sitting at your desk or paying bills, put a workout band around your knees or ankles and work out your legs and hips! One of our associates actually does leg lifts and crunches while lying in bed watching the evening news. Our compassionate caregiver Gail Corneby told me she takes mini exercise breaks during her day. Me? I put appointments on my calendar to exercise—with myself!

Having a good attitude, staying connected to your support system, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and being proactive are just a few of the ways you can take better care of yourself. It’s largely about recognizing that you do have choices, and the importance of making the ones most likely to support you in your caregiving role.

Let me give you two more places to turn. Our website and blog have some great articles on caregiving. Be sure to also check out the Alzheimer’s Association website and their tip sheet on “Important Self-Care for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.”
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