No one said it was going to be easy. Yet, you likely did not expect it to be quite this difficult. Caregivers often focus so much of their time and energies taking care of the family member with Alzheimerâ€™s that they forget they must continue to take care of themselves, too.
It does not take long before you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the additional responsibilities, which you have taken on. Alzheimerâ€™s does not affect only the person with the disease, but the disease takes its toll on the entire family. Not only are there multiple physical and emotional demands on the caregiver and his or her own family, eventually, as the disease progresses, the financial costs related to the disease begin to add even more pressures.
Most primary caregivers to Alzheimerâ€™s patients suffer from a considerable lack of sleep. However, research shows that lack of adequate sleep can be a major cause of stress and a number of common health ailments. Caring for someone other than you requires energy. If you donâ€™t sleep, you are not restoring that energy, which you need so desperately. And like a car battery drained of its energy supply, you wonâ€™t have any spark either. It may not be long before you find yourself feeling not only exhausted, but angry and frustrated as well. That will not help you, your loved one with Alzheimerâ€™s or your own spouse and children.
Second to getting sufficient rest and eating a well-balanced diet to stay healthy, donâ€™t be afraid to cry. There are a lot of additional demands on you these days, enough to make anyone feel more than a bit irritable at times. However, it is important to remain positive for everyoneâ€™s well-being. But in order to do so, you may have to set limits, and say â€˜noâ€™ sometimes.
The trick is not to allow yourself to feel guilty. Caregivers often become so wrapped up in their responsibilities; they begin to withdraw from family, friends, and social activities. This is one of the worst things that you can do for yourself or your loved one. Now, more than ever, you need the comfort and support offered by others to help keep you going, as the going gets tougher. And it will!
However, you can survive it all by accepting that one day you will lose your loved one with Alzheimerâ€™s disease. But donâ€™t focus on your family memberâ€™s decline. Instead, make the most of the moments, which you share now. Give that person the best of what you can give while you still have him/her.
Donâ€™t have any regrets. Keep things in perspective and know that you loved your family member and provided that person with the support and safety he or she needed at the time. Take a few moments by yourself when things get really rough and cry if you have to. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Crying can be a great tension reliever.
Most important, know that you are not alone. Reports show that at least 20% of caregivers of Alzheimerâ€™s patients are family members, whether we are spouses, children, or in some cases, even grandchildren. In the meantime, both caregiver and Alzheimerâ€™s sufferer must try to remain as physically, emotionally, and socially active as possible throughout the course of the disease.