1. Learn to self-identify as a caregiver. Take yourself and what you do seriously, and get support and counseling when needed. This is a job!
2. Coping: Learning skills such as those taught by the Alzheimer’s Association to better understand caring for someone with dementia. Learn as much as you can about taking care of your elder’s specific situation and your own health under this kind of stress.
3. Recognizing early grief – Realize that watching the decline of a loved one is a grieving process. You need to treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend. Drop the guilt when you don’t do something perfectly. Forget about fixing the situation. You can’t!
4. Nurture your spirit – Open up. Talk it out. Talk to friends who have been there, join a caregiver’s support group, talk to church leaders.
5. Look for humor – It’s hard to watch decline, but there are humorous moments, when we can detach from the caregiving situation; it’s especially good to share these moments with others caregivers.
6. Strive for balance – Don’t put your needs last.
7. Get professional help – Counseling to deal with dysfunctional families, depression, anger and other “normal” issues you may be facing.
8. In-home help – Look for agencies that offer in-home assistance in your area.
9. Long-term care – When necessary, good long-term care can be the best choice for the health and safety of your loved one. Just make sure someone who loves the elder is able to keep tabs on the situation and visit regularly. Long-term care does not mean you are giving up, but rather, you are getting more assistance.
10. Getting through the physical death – Hospice Journeys Program is excellent. Talking it out with church leaders and understanding friends.
Mostly, recovering takes time. Work your way back from the ill elder’s last months or years, and purposefully remember who they once were. The real person, before the illness robbed them of their health and personality. Make this a part of each day. Eventually, though you will not forget the grief, you will start to remember the whole person, and that can bring enormous relief.
Published On: March 21, 2007