Caring for a person with memory loss can be difficult, stressful, and even overwhelming. But it also can be one of the most gratifying, humbling and rewarding experiences in life. Whether assisting a spouse, relative or friend, caregivers are the backbone of long-term care.
Over time, as a loved one’s memory continues to decline, caregiving becomes more and more stressful and challenging. The demand for care naturally increases and time, energy, and effort are taken away from one’s own life. This can lead to, what we call, ‘caregiver burnout,’ or worse, lead to other physical or mental illnesses. Since caregiving can be draining physically, emotionally and financially, the best way to ensure quality care for someone else is to always be mindful of your own self-care. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of a loved one.
Effective self-care begins with the development of a caregiving plan. Though you can never anticipate every detail or situation, getting the basics covered is a great first step. From the start, you must decide what type of care you are able and willing and able to provide. Also, determine which relatives, friends or professionals are available to assist you.
Gaining insight into many of the hurdles you may face, and discovering creative solutions to those challenges, will better enable you to cope with the daily challenges of being a caregiver. Adopting these seven pillars of care can make your role as caregiver more manageable and rewarding:
- Caring Acts – What kinds of acts make you feel secure and loved? Consider how the recipient defines caring.
- Respect – The desire to be treated with respect doesn’t change at any age or stage of life.
- Dignity – A challenging aspect of caregiving is offering advice or help while still allowing the person to be as self-sufficient as possible.
- Honesty – Imparting difficult news is tough. Softening the blow by shading the truth may compound the original problem.
- Foresight – Successful caregiving requires foresight and planning.
- Warmth – Warmth is in the delivery rather than the act itself.
- Compassion and Connection – Try to step back and acknowledge difficult feelings. Be mindful of the patient’s struggles and offer compassion.
If you or a loved one is seeking professional for memory problems, Amen Clinics Memory Rescue: BRIGHT MINDS Program is an invaluable service and resource for caregivers. The program is a breakthrough approach to memory issues, aging and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the best way to improve brain health, reverse brain aging, and protect memory because it addresses all of the risk factors that affect memory.
To learn more about the Memory Program, get Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, Memory Rescue, available HERE.