Ask yourself if you are:
- More irritable than usual.
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities you enjoy.
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, tired, angry, resentful, or guilty.
- Afraid you might hurt yourself or the person with Alzheimer's.
- Expecting the person with Alzheimer's to get better or show gratitude.
- Overly anxious about the future.
- Exhausted to the point where small tasks seem overwhelming.
- Worrying so much that you are losing sleep.
- Unable to concentrate.
- Feeling like you have to do everything all by yourself.
- Having health problems and should see a doctor.
- Coping in destructive ways, such as overeating, or abusing alcohol or drugs.
- Not making any time for yourself.
Knowing what changes to expect at the different stages of the disease will help you stay calm and prepared. Learn more about the stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Take Care of Yourself
In order to be the best Alzheimer's caregiver you can be, you need to take care of yourself. Staying physically and emotionally strong and healthy can benefit both of you.
See the Doctor
- Take changes in your sleep, energy, appetite, etc., seriously. Go to the doctor at least once a year.
- Look into getting a seasonal flu shot. Being vaccinated can help protect both you and your loved oneóespecially during the later stages of Alzheimer's.
- See a doctor if you are feeling depressed, to avoid emotional and physical problems. Depression can be treated with medication, therapy and support.
- Eating heart-healthy foods may also help protect the brain if you're cooking for both you and your loved one.
- Exercise. Just 10 minutes of physical activity a day can help reduce stress and make you feel a whole lot better.
- Keep doing the activities you love, whether that means dancing, gardening, playing cards, etc.
Manage Your Stress
- Take time for yourself each week, even if it's only 30 minutes.
- Spend time with friends and family, let loose and share what's on your mind. Maintaining your relationships is important and being around the people you love can make a big difference in your daily stress level.
- Try relaxation techniques such as visualizing a peaceful place; meditating; taking slow, deep breaths; and tightening and relaxing your muscles, one by one.
- Working nonstop without taking breaks can exhaust you. Step away from your duties every now and then, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Tips for Staying Positive
- The person with Alzheimer's is always trying to do his or her best. Focus more on the efforts he or she is making (and less on the results).
- Remind yourself that negative changes in behavior and/or language are just symptoms of the disease, and should not be taken personally.
- Be mindful of your tone and body language. While your loved one may not understand what is being said, he or she will understand and respond to audio and visual cues. Stay relaxed, and avoid speaking in a high-pitched voice. The person with Alzheimer's will appreciate being treated with respect.
- Leave reminders of the person's life, family, and how much they are loved around the house in the form of old photos, notes, and meaningful objects. Reference fond memories you have together.
- Having fun with your loved one can still bring joy to both of you. Here are some activities you can enjoy together during the different stages.