The emotional, psychological and physical strains that you're feeling as a carer is perfectly normal. That's because providing care is hard work for anyone. By adopting strategies to help you cope with the pressure you're feeling, you'll be better equipped to take care of someone with Alzheimer's disease – and you'll feel happier and healthier.
Here are 10 coping strategies that you can adopt:
Knowing how the disease plays out can make it easier to understand and adapt to its progression. So take the time to learn about the disease and how it will affect the person over time. Having reasonable expectations can help in coming to terms with the eventual decline that the disease will bring. Refer to the section on Resources for people with Alzheimer's Disease and carers
for more information on Alzheimer's disease, as well as strategies to help manage the symptoms.
Being realistic about how much you can do as a carer is an important part of keeping expectations reasonable and managing stress.
Carers may experience mixed feelings, and may feel happy, angry, guilty, sad, afraid, and helpless all in a single day. This may be confusing, but it's normal. Be sure to continually recognise that you're doing the best you can.
Don't keep your feelings to yourself. Sharing with family and friends can help them better understand how they can support both the person with Alzheimer's disease and you. Consider joining and regularly attending a support group.
Stay focused on what the person with Alzheimer's disease is still able to do, rather than on the abilities they have lost.
Keeping your sense of humour can help. Alzheimer's disease is a serious disease, but finding the lighter side of things can sometimes be a useful coping strategy.
Never forget to eat well, get enough exercise, and schedule regular check-ups with the doctor.
Make an effort to take time for yourself, and do the things you like to do – whether it's reading a book, taking a walk or going for a drive in the country. Make sure it's a real break – doing errands and chores don't count.
Knowing that there is a plan in place can make things easier. Choices concerning future health, personal care decisions, and legal planning should be thought out well in advance. Alternate plans for care should be made, in case something prevents you from continuing in this role.