If you’re looking after a family member living with Alzheimer’s, you’ve no doubt focused on providing a high level of care and have learned to adapt to the increased challenges of this progressive illness.
But while the attention is on your loved one, it’s important to remember that you also will need to take care of yourself.
It’s not uncommon for caregivers to neglect their own physical and emotional health. Those watching over family members with Alzheimer’s are at a greater risk for anxiety, depression and a poor quality of life than those who provide care for loved ones with other conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The care needs of those living with Alzheimer’s can be great. As their requirements increase, the caregiver’s responsibilities do as well. You may be assisting with:
Most people don’t have prior experience in caregiving and may feel especially unprepared to take care of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s. You may also find yourself needing the skills to provide these additional supports:
The stress that can result from caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is real. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to discuss this with your doctor or another resource:
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
There are many steps caregivers can take to help care for themselves but there is one that can address the needs of the person while also providing the advantages of friendship and encouragement – a support group.
Support groups provide a connection between those experiencing similar situations and a link to the outside world. You’ll not only find people who know what it feels like to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s but these additional advantages as well:
One of the biggest benefits that a support group can offer is helping others understand that they are not alone. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is challenging and can often result in feelings of isolation. Knowing there are people who are also navigating this journey is comforting.
Having an outlet to talk freely about your fears, frustrations and worries can relieve stress. You may feel that other family members or friends don’t understand what you’re going through or that they might be critical if you openly expressed your thoughts. A support group can be a safe haven.
Another great advantage is the opportunity to listen and discuss with others how they approached certain situations. They can share what worked for them and what didn’t. They may have useful advice that you’ll want to try or suggestions on how to save time and trouble or what you may want to avoid.
Sometimes what you need the most is the support that a group can offer. Caregiving can be exhausting and leave you feeling as if you don’t know what to do next. Knowing there are others to encourage you along the way can give you the added energy and reinforcement that you need.
On the days you begin to doubt if you have the strength and ability to continue to care for your loved one, you may wonder how anyone can successfully navigate this challenge. With a support group, you will be surrounded by those who are there with you or who have made it through.
You may want to ask yourself these questions when looking for a support group:
We understand the challenges of Alzheimer’s, including the care that the caregiver also needs. Support groups can be a positive experience for many family members and friends of those living with this illness and we hope these tips help.
As Alzheimer’s is a progressive illness, if the time does come when a higher level of care is needed than you feel you can provide, we invite you to consider Ingleside at Rock Creek Memory Support Assisted Living.
Our compassionate staff, therapies, programs and residences are all designed to provide our residents with the highest level of care, independence and dignity. We are also a supportive resource to our families.
Please visit our website for more information. Call (202) 846-2651 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.