Issue 93, June 2006
Twenty Top Tips for Carers
By Marge Demepsey and Sylvia Baago,
Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region
Acknowledgement: “Gateway” Australian HDA (NSW) Inc Summer/Autumn 2006
- Get help early – counselling assistance with caregiving duties, etc.
- Involve your family from the beginning by sharing your concerns with them.
- Access all the information you can about the disease and educate yourself as much as possible about its progression
- Have an awareness about the losses to come.
- Recognise the hidden grief component of your anger, anxiety, guilt and depression. Expect adaptation, but not resolution, of your grief.
- Appreciate your grief and seek out someone who understands it.
- Recognise the signs of denial: for example, you insist, “I don’t need any help”. “Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s okay.”
- Acknowledge your right to feel emotionally off-balance.
- Learn to “Let Go” from the start and share your caregiving burden. Your loved one can survive a few hours without you.
- Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
- Stop trying to be perfect: caring for someone with a chronic illness means your world has been turned upside down and you will probably have to compromise some of your personal standards of housekeeping.
- Join a support group early.
- Take care of yourself – physically and emotionally. Have regular checkups. Get as much rest and respite as possible. Eat well-balanced meals. Give yourself time to cry. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your feelings of anger, anxiety, helplessness, guilt and despair.
- Hang on to your sense of Self. Keep up your regular activities as much as possible.
- Take one day at a time, but don’t neglect to plan for the future. Good planning can include getting a power of attorney and accessing community care early.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember you are experiencing normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.
- Learn how to communicate differently with your loved one if cognitive and language abilities decline. Good communication strategies help to avoid frustration.
- Make sure your family doctor is one who is willing to listen and understand.
- Accept yourself for being human; even if you “lose it” sometimes, give yourself a pat on the back for doing the best you can.
- Follow the action plan to avoid caregiver burnout.