By: The ALZWA Care & Support Team (Jen, Steve, Maria, Estela, Em and Erica)
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn
We all know it, caregivers are superheroes. But even the strongest superheroes need time to rest and regain their strength. Looking after someone’s health, financial and legal affairs can be stressful and overwhelming. In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, our Care & Support team has compiled a list of their favorite tips to help you keep the self-care you need (and deserve) a priority:
10 Tips for Caregiver Self-Care
1. Start small if you need to. Even 5 minutes spent doing a short-breathing exercise or body-scan meditation can psychologically reduce stress.
3. Be gentle with yourself. If you skip your afternoon walk around the neighborhood or aerobics class, extend the same grace you would to a dear friend and set an intention to get there next time.
2. Follow a 5 or 10-minute full body stretch on Youtube as you start your day to connect with yourself in your body.
4. Meet a friend for coffee or tea. Consider conversing about a book you’ve read, movie, a series, or sports – any topic that gets you out of your daily routine and thought patterns to give your brain a break from the usual.
5. Keep a journal and write down 5 things you are grateful for. Focus on the positive things can help you to reframe and feel better.
6. Make a playlist! Find songs that help you to feel grounded, calm, and/or happy. You might find that your preferences change as you change, so know that it is okay to update your playlist every now and then.
7. Coloring, painting or drawing is a great way to relieve stress, lower your heart rate, and slow down your thoughts. You don’t need to be the next Van Gogh, just let the act of art guide and soothe you.
8. Schedule your annual wellness visit and preventive screenings. Be sure that while you are looking after someone else’s health and well-being, you don’t neglect your own! Take some time to catch up on routine visits and preventative screenings to ensure you health is taken care of
9. Prioritize your sleep. Adequate sleep is incredibly important to our everyday functions but can also be hard to come by when you are caring for another person. Take advantage of the days you can go to sleep a little early or sneak a nap in (this can include napping when your loved one is also resting).
10. Know that it is okay to ask for help. We all need assistance from time to time. Reach out to friends, family, clergy, and support groups. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 Helpline available for support as well, 1-800-272-3900.
No one should have to do this alone. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can often involve a team of people. Whether you provide daily caregiving, participate in decision-making, or simply care about a person with the disease, you deserve some rest and time for yourself. And we are here to help you navigate this journey. Call our helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or visit us online at alzwa.org to learn more.