- Written by Eileen Silverberg Eileen Silverberg
Oftentimes, many of us, when making decisions as caregivers, tend to leave out a vital factor: ourselves. As caregivers of our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s, our role as the decision maker gets emotionally demanding.
As the disease progresses, more decisions seem to pile up. As time goes by, we forget that we are the most part important of any decision making.
There is no denying the many responsibilities that come with caring for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. From cost of medications, treatments, and finding help, to feasibility, time management, and time constraints, to simply understanding what our loved ones really want — it becomes a lot.
As our loved ones face yet a new phase of the disease, many of us realize we must look for additional help with care. One fantastic way to help, bringing great benefit to our loved ones, is considering an adult day healthcare facility.
Adult care facilities have many advantages. Many of these day healthcare facilities provide dementia/Alzheimer’s patients with increased social socialization, cognitive stimulation, and an opportunity to get your loved one out of the house.
Consequently, it is a great way to provide caregivers with a well-deserved break that can be used to run errands, meet with friends, go to our own appointments, or just take a breather.
Clearly, there will be many times that our loved one’s mindset may be very negative. Their objections can and will create feelings of frustration, negative self-talk, and auto-criticism, not to mention the questions and feelings of guilt attached to the financial expenses.
However, when the question of “How can I make my loved one go somewhere he or she is not comfortable with, just so we have time for ourselves?” arises, it is the precise moment when we must aim the focus back to us and our well-being.
When facing difficult decisions as a caregiver, here are a few points to consider:
1. Remember that considering ourselves and our emotional needs is healthy.
When we include ourselves as a factor in all the decisions we make in taking care of our loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s, we recognize the importance of our own well-being. It can be helpful to imagine if we were advising our best friend or perhaps our adult child.
When making decisions for our loved ones with dementia /Alzheimer’s, we owe it to ourselves to ask better questions. This, in turn, will allow us to calm the intensity of our negative self-talk and auto criticism.
Here are the questions we should allow ourselves to explore when making decisions for our loved ones.
2. Ask yourself, “Will the decision give us time to focus on our health?”
When our loved ones resist or battle us over dementia care, asking ourselves if the decision will allow us time to focus on our health can make us see the situation from a different perspective.
As the disease progresses, so will the needs of our loved ones. If our health is not optimal or we are not ensuring we are in good health, we cannot be responsible caregivers.
Having good health will make things easier for us and, of course, for our care recipients. Remembering that high levels of stress affect our health is vital.
3. Ask yourself, “Will the decision give us time to refresh?”
Caring for our loved ones not only brings high levels of stress to our lives, but may also bring feelings of grief. Having proper time to acknowledge and cope with moments of grief is healthy.
The importance of learning how to cope in a healthy fashion with the grief of losing that loved one to dementia should not be overlooked.
Talking to someone about these feelings, including burnouts, helps us reset our outlook in life, thus allowing us to be calmer when dealing with our loved ones.
4. Ask yourself, “Will the decision allow us to connect with others and do things we have been wanting to do?”
Connecting with other people in our lives is crucial — people like our own spouses, whom we may be neglecting due to exhaustion. Visits with friends or family members, who perhaps we have not been able to talk with or see, can bring a boost of joy to our lives.
Consider that our caregiving can improve by taking time to socialize more and having time to enjoy our individuality.
When caring for our loved ones, viewing ourselves as equally important is perhaps the best way to honor our health, our well-being, and our care recipients. We are an equal part of the consideration when making crucial and important caring decisions.
Eileen Silverberg is a life coach in emotional management and the author of the new book, A Warrior of Light: A Guide of Inner Wisdom for Challenging Times. She is also the founder and creator of E.S. Being Aloha Soul Meditation. For more information, visit www.eileensilverberg.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.