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It’s not uncommon for caregivers to get caught up in the task of taking care of their loved one and altogether forget about their own needs. The problem with this is layered, but at its core, caregivers can’t properly care for someone if their needs aren’t being met first.

It may sound selfish on the surface, but taking time out for yourself is the best thing you can do for your loved one. Without self-care, you risk over-exerting yourself, which is common for caregivers. And they often do so without even realizing it. It’s imperative to replenish the energies that are depleted in the caregiving process. Without this important respite, caregivers have little left to offer and their caregiving efforts fall short at the expense of their loved one.

Some of the indicators that you aren’t getting the care you need will show in the form of stress, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, fatigue and burnout. If you have reached this point in caregiving, you may come off as short, detached, stressed, and even annoyed to your loved one.

People who suffer from dementia are already prone to these types of symptoms. When you become subject to them, too, it can easily intensify their stress and agitation.

Taking the time to meet your own needs—be it down time, entertainment, a break from the mundane, ordering food in, or simply taking a bath—could alleviate these types of tensions for you both.

Here are a few ideas to take time for yourself as they relate to caregiving:

  • Spa day
  • Going out to dinner or order in
  • Regular maintenance (haircuts, grocery shopping, washing your car etc.)
  • Get together with friends and family
  • Weekend getaways or day trips
  • Watch your favorite television show
  • Skip chores that can be put off for a time
  • Attend church and other social functions

In addition to meeting your personal needs, it’s important that you are constantly learning new insights to the task at hand. Connect with your community resources to see what is available in the way of education. Take advantage of these resources and carve out the time you need to participate in them.

Connect with Assured Senior Living Solutions to learn about these types of resources:

  • Support groups
  • Workshops and educational classes
  • Day Centers
  • Conferences
  • Respite care

In addition to the community resources, don’t be afraid to lean on your own family and friends for relief. If they make themselves available and you are in need of a break, don’t hesitate to take them up on the offer.

It has been observed that caregivers’ health will suffer in the shadow of their dedication to caring for their loved one, if they neglect taking care of themselves. For your own well-being and that of your loved one, take advantage of the resources available. Give yourself the care you need and see to it that you develop some sort of regularity.

Whether it’s a couple hours a week, a bimonthly getaway or daily relief so you can maintain a full-time job, connect with the resources that will ensure your loved one is cared for, without you having to give up your life, your health or your peace of mind.

Contributed by Leah Bigham

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