By: Carol Combs, MSW, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator
There are only four kinds of people in the world
Those who have been caregivers
Those who are currently caregivers
Those who will be caregivers
And those who will need caregivers
Recently I visited a caregiver whose wife had Alzheimer’s disease. When I asked him how he was coping with taking care of her, he responded with a loving smile “I don’t have to take care of her, I GET to.”
During National Caregiver Month Oxford HealthCare would like to acknowledge and thank all of the caregivers who give selflessly of themselves to care for someone. Whether it’s caring for someone 24/7 or caring for someone occasionally, being a caregiver can be a very rewarding experience, along with being a daunting and exhaustive experience.
As a caregiver, there are signs of stress that you do need to pay attention to. If you experience of any of these signs, it is wise to seek help from a professional home care agency and consult your physician.
- Denial about the disease and its effect on the individual
- Anger at the person you are caring for, others who may not understand or at the disease process itself
- Anxiety about the tasks at hand or about the future
- Depression that impedes your ability to cope and begins to break your spirit
- Exhaustion making it difficult to initiate or complete care
- Irritability causing moodiness and may trigger negative thinking or actions
- Sleeplessness due to worry or due to the sleep disturbances of the individual you are caring for
- Lack of concentration making it difficult to perform familiar tasks
- Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
It is vital that caregivers take care of themselves. If you find yourself without the time to take care of your own needs, you may be putting your health at risk.
- Educate yourself about the disease so you are better equipped to provide care and cope with the changes that may occur
- Utilize community resources that offer assistance and support
- Get help from family, friends and community resources. Support groups are a good source of comfort and reassurance.
- Take care of yourself by watching your diet, exercising and getting rest. Staying healthy will help you better manage stress.
- Embrace humor! Finding and holding onto humorous stories can help you keep an upbeat perspective in spite of the challenges of being a caregiver
- Give yourself credit, not guilt. Know that the care you give does make a difference and you are doing the best you can
- Make legal and financial plans. Plan ahead. Consult a lawyer to discuss wills, estate planning and advance directives.
- Visit your doctor regularly and pay attention to your stress, physical, emotional and mental changes. Ignoring symptoms can result in a decline in mental and physical health.
If you are a caregiver or know someone who is a caregiver, Oxford HealthCare offers numerous home care programs that can provide you the help, support and relief you need, so you can enjoy time with your loved one. Call one of our Care Coordinators today and we would be happy to assist you.