If your senior parent has Alzheimer’s and you’re planning on taking care of them at home you’re probably pretty overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving. That’s normal. It’s not something that many people know how to do until they do it. And while there are lots of books and things you can read to try and prepare yourself Alzheimer’s affects every person in a unique way so no one can prepare you for how it will affect your senior parent. But there are some things that are universally true for most Alzheimer’s caregivers such as:
You’re Going To Get It Wrong
There is no perfect way to care for a senior parent with Alzheimer’s and no one is perfect anyway. You’re going to get it wrong. Accept that from the start. There are days you will be out of patience and speak more sharply than you mean to speak. You will forget things. You will say the wrong thing. You will get mad. And sad. And all of that is ok. It’s part of the process when you’re caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s. Try to find the humor in your mistakes and rest assured that everyone makes mistakes.
It’s OK To Take Time Off
If you need a break you should absolutely take a break. You may worry that taking time off is selfish or that your siblings or family members will judge you for taking a day, a few days, or even more time off but don’t worry about that. Whether they judge you or not you’re still entitled to take time off. Plan a vacation with your family or just take a couple of days to be alone in quiet and regroup before you burn yourself out as a caregiver. You can’t help your senior parent if you are so burned out that you are falling apart emotionally or physically. Alzheimer’s care is available to fill in the gaps and make sure that your senior loved one is cared for while you are taking a break.
Support Is Essential
Everyone that takes care of someone with Alzheimer’s needs support. Even Alzheimer’s care providers are encouraged to seek support if they need it. Joining a support group for children who are taking care of an adult with Alzheimer’s or getting help from a counselor or therapist that specializing in caregiver issues and caregiver burnout can help.
You Won’t Regret It
Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s is physically and emotionally difficult. There’s no denying that. But it’s also very rewarding. You will get to spend a lot of time with your senior parent just when it’s the most important that you do so. As their Alzheimer’s progresses they will be unable to do more things and they may not even recognize you consistently. But at least you will have that extra time with them when they do still know you and appreciate you. It’s a difficult journey, but it’s a journey you will be glad that you took with your senior loved one.