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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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While sometimes an uncomfortable topic to discuss, mental health is imperative to talk about in the world of Alzheimer’s and dementia in which we live, especially as caregivers.

The stress, worry, sadness, grief, and other range of emotions we cope with as we love and care for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia can have a dramatic effect on our mental health. This is true for family and loved ones, as well as professional caregivers and staff. We encourage everyone at Iris Memory Care, staff and families alike, to pause and reflect on your mental health this month. Are you taking care of you? Here are some things to look for that might be red flags:

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Reduced appetite or excessive hunger
  • Fatigue and/or pain
  • Lack of concentration or attention
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Tearfulness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Thoughts that the world would be better off without you and/or suicidal thoughts

It’s important we get help when we need it, and that we do things for ourselves to rest, rejuvenate, and feed our soul. If you recognize any of the symptoms listed above within yourself, talk to a friend about what is going on and how you are feeling. Better yet, talk to your doctor. Also, try to remember good habits of self-care:

  • Exercise! As difficult as it can be when you are feeling overwhelmed, exercise can help you cope
  • Make healthy eating choices
  • Remember the luxury that is a hot bath
  • Splurge and get a full body massage
  • Try to get some sunshine and fresh air
  • Avoid the impulse to isolate yourself
  • Reinforce good boundaries and remember the importance of putting your needs first

Don't forget some of the resources offered through the Alzheimer's Association! The Caregiver Stress Check is a great place to start. You can also call the 24/7 Helpline - "The Alzheimer‘s Association is here all day, every day for people facing Alzheimer‘s disease through our 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) and online. Through our free Helpline services, specialists and master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, caregivers, families and the public." - A description of the helpline on the Alzheimer's Association website. You can learn more about the myriad of services they offer by visiting http://www.alz.org

 

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