Jupiter Dementia Caregivers Find A New Balance
Remember to Recognize How Much You Already Do
Here are a few tips on how to balance your life as an Alzheimer’s caregiver:
One of the greatest challenges family caregivers face is not knowing how much assistance to give or when to give it because the person with early-stage dementia is primarily independent with dressing, bathing, walking and may still drive, volunteer or work. The most difficult tasks may involve managing a daily schedule or household budget.
As a family caregiver, your support with these everyday tasks can help the person with dementia develop new coping strategies that will help to maximize his or her independence. Every relationship is different but finding balance between interdependence and independence may increase confidence for both of you.
To help you determine when and how to provide the most appropriate support to a person living in the early stage of dementia consider these tips used by other care partners:
- Safety first: Is there an immediate safety risk for the person with dementia to perform this task alone? If there is no immediate risk of injury or harm, provide encouragement and continue to provide supervision as necessary.
- Avoid stress: Prioritize tasks or actions that do not cause unnecessary stress for the person with dementia. For example, if you know that grocery shopping will be frustrating for the person with dementia, ask for their participation to outline a weekly menu and organize a grocery list.
- Make a positive assumption: Assume that the person with dementia is capable of completing the task. If you sense frustration, try to identify the cause of the frustration before intervening. Focus on his or her current needs, rather than dwelling on the future.
- Create a help signal: Identify a cue or phrase that you can use to confirm if the person with dementia is comfortable receiving support. For example, you may agree to use a phrase like, “Is there anything I can do to help?” or a nod to signal that it’s ok to chime in if the person with dementia is having difficulty remembering a word or name.
- Talk it over: The best way to determine how and when to provide support is to ask directly. Ask the person with dementia what they need or the frustrations they may be experiencing. Talk about it, then make a plan.
- Work better together: Find activities to do together and keep the conversation going about expectations for how you will provide support. Check in regularly by asking the person with dementia if you are providing a level of assistance that is comfortable or adequate.
As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you have the opportunity to deepen a bond with your loved one through your care and compassion. The challenges may seem to outweigh the rewards on many days. Nevertheless, acknowledge how much you do even on the toughest days, when it seems like nothing is going right.
Also, be sure to try some of the options above to help balance all those overwhelming responsibilities with your own needs and your own health.
Click here to learn more about caregiver life balance:
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