Getting lost in the process can happen so easily. You want to make sure that you are doing the right things for your parents. However, if you aren’t taking care of yourself then you are not doing the best thing for them. If you don’t put yourself first, then you could get sick and make them sick. You could get stressed out and snap at them.
If you aren’t at your full capacity, then you could be doing yourself and them more harm than good. Make sure your priorities aren’t being lost in the shuffle of everything else going on. You still deserve to live your best life to the fullest!
- Take care of you. Give yourself some “ME” time to focus on you. Whether you use that time to read, take a bath, get a pedicure, take a yoga class, or do nothing, schedule that time into your week. Make sure that you do something for yourself every day and make it a priority. Volunteer for an organization you are passionate about. This will also give you energy and get your mind off the caregiver issues you may be currently facing.
- Keep a journal. Log how you are feeling on particular days. Are you feeling stressed out? Dangerously close to a meltdown? Since burnout can happen gradually, it is important to monitor how you feel before you are completely overwhelmed and feeling helpless. Keeping a diary may let you see patterns and keep track of your moods before things spiral out of control.
- Get plenty of sleep. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many of our loved ones sleep more during the day as they get older. This means they probably get up at night. Try to take naps or use relaxation techniques. You might even ask a friend or family member—or hire someone to stay overnight so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
- Set a routine or schedule. Routines are great for people with Dementia because they don’t like to be thrown off schedule. Don’t forget to schedule in your gym time and time for yourself. Keeping a routine is a great stress reliever for both of you. Your loved one doesn’t get surprised and you will have a better sense of control. If you happen to be driving by your mother’s house don’t feel obligated to drop in if it isn’t your normal time to visit.
- Pamper yourself when you can by delegating tasks. If it makes sense to hire a maid, then hire one. Use a dry cleaner that picks up and drops off. Get dinner delivered or better yet, go out. Streamline your errands, chores and tasks as much as possible so that you can enjoy the small increments of time that you have to yourself.
Remember, you can’t be an effective caregiver if you are stressed out or sick. Find time for yourself by dropping the guilt and putting yourself first!