Caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a challenge, especially if you have never been a full-time caregiver before. Although rewarding, it can also be overwhelming. What’s important however is that you not give in to these emotions. Here are a few tips to help you alleviate caregiver guilt.
Dementia is a progressive disease with no known cure, which is why it is important to understand your role in this delicate situation from the beginning. Having a heartfelt conversation with your loved one about what they want for their journey – while they can still articulate their thoughts – is one of the most valuable things you can do for your own peace of mind. Every situation is different, and knowing your loved one’s preferences will help take some of the weight off your shoulders.
It is also a good idea to speak with professionals or to other people that have been, or are in, a similar situation. Learning from their experience will help you have a better understanding of the disease and how you can make your loved one more comfortable.
Find Balance in Your Life
In order to take care of someone else, you first have to take care of yourself. Going out on a date, catching up with work, or even taking a day off for your mental health may not feel right when you know you have someone at home who needs your help. But what you have to understand is that this is a long journey and you can’t put your life on pause. It’s not just “okay” to take some time for yourself, it is a necessity.
Taking some personal time will make you happier, more energized, and less stressed when you return to your caregiver duties – something that has a direct positive impact on the individual in your care.
Guilt is Part of Our Job
It is not uncommon to feel that you should be doing more for your loved one. Often time, this generates negative thoughts which lead to a sense of guilt. As a caregiver, you need to learn to deal with the internal struggle and understand that you are not here to rescue your loved one, but to make their life better. Feeling guilty can trick you into thinking caregiving is an obligation, not a choice. This could make you feel resentful, but taking care of someone should feel the opposite. It’s about loving that person even in the hardest of times, being there for them, and doing what you can because you want to and not because you have to.
Knowing When Is Time to Ask for Help
Talking to others about their experiences can help you realize that you are not alone. Knowing what resources are available in your community is also something that you should know from day one. Support groups, library books, or even the assistance of a senior living community, can make a big difference in your day-to-day. At Iris Senior Living, we are here help you and your loved one regardless of where they are in their journey.
If you have any questions about Memory Care, please contact us. Our professional team is happy to help in any way that we can.