Taking care of yourself is one of the most important aspects of caregiving. Many carers suffer from guilt, from a feeling of never doing enough for the person with dementia. They bend over backwards to help them, eventually breaking themselves down. It is the exact opposite of selfishness to take care of yourself. In not taking care of yourself, you are in no position to take care of anyone else.
It is okay to sometimes feel overwhelmed, exhausted, irritable or sad. However, take these symptoms seriously if you feel it’s getting out of hand. See your doctor, if you feel that negative emotions take over your life. If you have found yourself shouting to the person, there is no point in exaggerating the event. However, if this happens commonly, or you find yourself hitting, pushing or doing other things towards the person with dementia that make you feel disturbed or ashamed afterwards, seek out for help. These behaviours are a symptom that you have pushed yourself beyond your limit.
There are many health benefits from staying active. If you feel you don’t have the time nor the energy for a workout, you and the person with dementia can both benefit from physical activity. Have a look at the proposed “activities” in DemiCare for some inspiration. In addition, you will both benefit from eating a nutritious well-balanced diet.
In this section of the DemiCare-app you will find resources for coping strategies to take care of mental or emotional aspects of caring and self-care. You will find a list of resources in your community, a diary for you to fill out and examples of ways to relax and manage stress. Remember to always find time for yourself. Whenever you get a moment alone, you might feel this time should be used for housework or other chores. However, a few minutes a day devoted only to yourself can get you a long way. Do a Sudoku, enjoy a cup of tea, listen to music, take a walk, pursue hobbies or do anything that makes you feel revitalized. The important first step is to recognize that you should prioritize yourself. Take friends and family members who offered to help you, up on their offer. They can also be great resources for breaking any isolation you might feel. Always remind yourself that you are doing your best, and the difference your care makes to the person with dementia.