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Self-Care During Alzheimer’s: Empowering Seniors to Care for Themselves

An older woman smiles as she rolls out pie crust, allowing her caregiver to practice self-care during Alzheimer’s by empowering her to handle tasks independently.

Self-care during Alzheimer’s isn’t as hard to obtain as you may think!

In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of caregivers taking time for self-care. But trying to find time for self-care during Alzheimer’s is even more difficult. A diagnosis of dementia puts family members on heightened alert to ensure safety, which of course is crucial. But it’s equally important to empower a senior with dementia to continue to live as independently as possible, maintaining control over as many decisions, tasks, and activities as they are able. Finding the right balance will allow for a healthier life for both of you.

How to Balance Helping Without Hindering

Dr. Barry J. Jacobs, co-author of the book AARP Meditations for Caregivers, shares his own experience in caring for his mother: “With all my best intentions and concerted energies, I mostly succeeded in curbing her independence and squelching her spirit. She didn’t see me as her caring son so much as the overbearing usurper of roles she cherished.”

These three tactics will help you help a loved one maintain autonomy, freedom, and independence:

  • Focus on the person’s abilities instead of their disabilities. The person with Alzheimer’s may be losing the ability to accomplish certain tasks, but look for the strengths they possess and find work-around solutions to accommodate for any weaknesses. For instance, if remembering all of the steps involved in doing laundry is challenging but they are still physically able to take care of the tasks, a visual chart with steps can help. Or, if bending to load and unload clothes to and from the washer and dryer is cumbersome, the person can sort and fold clothing.
  • Allow extra time and patience. Sometimes, a person with dementia can still accomplish a task with some additional time. Try to add plenty of extra time into your schedule so the person can complete tasks at an appropriate pace. If you’re rushing to get to a doctor’s appointment, you may be more likely to jump in and take over getting the person’s shoes on, for instance. Allowing extra time can make a big difference in enhancing their self-esteem.
  • Talk about it. Sit down with the senior and have a heart-to-heart discussion about their goals and wishes. What do they consider to be the areas in which they’re struggling the most? How does that make them feel? Together, come up with a plan to ensure they can continue to live the life they want with the right level of support in areas that are becoming difficult.

How Home Care Helps

An in-home caregiver can help you provide the support needed to ensure their safety and comfort, allowing you to take time for self-care during Alzheimer’s.

At Home Matters Caregiving, our caregivers have specialized expertise in Alzheimer’s care. We are adept in balancing a senior’s need for support with their need for independence. Call us at 800-298-5140 to find our more, and visit our Locations page to see if our care is available in your area.

Home Matters Caregiving