actually release the same hormone that’s released when we feel under physical threat. Our
blood pressure goes up, and so does our risk for depression and anxiety. Caregiving can lead to
loss of friendships, and social isolation. Your emotions may get all mixed up when your role
changes and you are suddenly caring for a parent, or a spouse. You’re dealing with grief all the
time because you lose control of former priorities, and you are constantly adjusting to make
things easier for the person you’re caring for. It’s an overwhelming job, and the pay is lousy.
However, there is some good news. Most caregivers report an increase in inner strength as a
result of the caregiving experience. Many feel passionately about the sense of purpose that
the caring role gives them, and say they are happy to give back to a person who has given them
so much. Here are some Caregiving Resolutions to help you manage the unavoidable stress that comes
with the territory:
- Give yourself permission to slow down. Take deep breaths whenever possible. Trust your instincts. Forgive yourself when things don’t go well. Don’t demand so much of yourself.
- Accept offers of help. Be specific with tasks when people offer help – maybe you need help folding laundry, or maybe you want someone to stay with your loved one for a few hours so you can visit with a friend. Keep a list of these things handy. You will be a better caregiver if you attend to your own needs.
- Think about one thing you like to do, and make sure you get to do it, on a regular basis. Maybe it’s reading, listening to music, or having a cup of tea, alone.
- If you have trouble falling asleep at night, relaxation tapes or guided imagery meditations might be helpful.
- Drink lots of water. Be wary of overdoing caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or processed foods.
- Find ways to relax and have fun with the person you are caring for.
- Appreciate the humor in your situation whenever it arises. Laughter will help relieve some stress.
- Know what you can control and what you can’t, what you can do, and what you can’t.
When things get tough, ask for help. Call the Alzheimer’s Association helpline when you need information and support. It’s available 24/7, day or night: 1-800-272-3900.
Special thanks to Kathy Wingert-Hall for information and insight on this topic.