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The Importance of Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

Self care tips for families of people with Dementia 
 
A loved one getting diagnosed with dementia isn’t easy. There are lots of things to think about, big and small, but all important. With all these questions circling about your loved one, you may forget to look after yourself. Whether you’re a new carer, navigating the world of looking after a loved one or have been looking after someone for a while, and you’re starting to feel isolated and maybe frustrated, it’s always okay to reach out for help. You’re not alone and there is always help available.  
 
We can't stress how important it is for you, as a carer of someone with dementia, to remember to take care of yourself too. Remember, no one can pour from an empty cup. Taking care of your own wellbeing isn't selfish and there are so many helpful groups and guides available to you. In this blog, we're going to give some self care tips for families of people with dementia, so that you can begin to prioritise supporting yourself, just as much as you support your loved one suffering from this illness.  

Recognising Signs of Caregiver Stress 

Before we get into our self care tips for families of people with dementia, it’s important to recognise when you should seek help.  
 
When you start caring for someone with dementia, it can be hard to remember life before the diagnosis. In that, you can forget what it feels like to not have the added layer of pressure on you every day - so you can very easily become stressed and be on the verge of burnout without even realising it. Here are some indicators of caregiver stress for you to look out for: 

Emotional Signs 

If you’ve been feeling constantly worried or overwhelmed, have persistent sadness or a feeling of hopelessness - you could be suffering from anxiety or depression. So, it’s important to catch these things early so that you too can get the support that you need.   

Sleep Problems and Fatigue  

Experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much are all signs of sleep problems. Whilst still feeling tired and exhausted, regardless of having good quality sleep, could also be signs of fatigue. Ensure you’re getting enough quality rest and if you’re still struggling, seek help from a professional.  

Isolation and Withdrawal 

Maybe you’ve been pulling away from social interactions or activities that were once enjoyable. Or, even seeing an increase in conflicts with others, including the person being cared for. 
 
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, you’re not alone. Hopefully here, we can give a few self care tips for families of people with Dementia to help you prevent stress and prioritise your wellbeing. You can also seek help on the NHS website, where there are a whole host of resources for caregivers. 


Self Care Tips for Families of People with Dementia 

Here are some of our top self care tips for families of people with dementia so that you can live a quality life alongside caring for your loved one. 

Build a Support Network   

Dementia is an illness that can bring people together. In some way everyone is touched by dementia - whether that’s ourselves, a loved one, or a friend who cares for someone with dementia. So it’s unsurprising that there is a whole host of communities available to support you. There are support groups where you can go and share your feelings and discuss with other caregivers about your experiences. A space to speak freely about your emotions, in a safe environment and without judgement.  
 
There are also Memory Cafes where you, as the caregiver, and your loved one with dementia can be welcomed alongside other dementia patients to build connections and take part in activities. These Memory Cafes are designed not only for the dementia patient, but for you as a caregiver too.  

Utilising Respite Care Options 

Another of our self care tips for families of people with Dementia is to make time for yourself away from the Dementia patient you care for. Respite care means taking a break from caring, while the person you care for is looked after by someone else - meaning that you can enjoy some time to yourself, doing things that bring you joy, knowing that your loved one is in safe hands. 
There are various respite options available, whether you want just a couple of hours, a day or two, or maybe a week or longer so that you can come back fully recharged ready to offer your best level of care again. There is no shame in accepting help which is why we offer respite options for you and your loved one at Wisteria Care Home.  

Implement Some Routine 

Having a baseline level of routine allows you to wake up each day having a rough idea of how you intend for your day to play out- meaning that you’re relieved of the pressure of having to plan each new day. It also means that, for the person suffering with dementia, although they may not fully understand, depending on the stage of their condition, they too can have some structure to rely on from one day to the next.  

However, as a dementia caregiver, you’ll also know that sometimes things simply won’t go according to plan. And that's ok. Be sure to set realistic expectations and avoid any feelings of guilt if things change along the way.  

Accessing Professional Support and Resources 

Nowadays, there are so many resources and self care tips for families of people with Dementia, that you are never alone on your journey as a caregiver. Remember that, if you need support, which everybody does from time to time, you can find out more details about help, resources and guidelines from the NHS website.  
 
No matter where your loved one is on their dementia journey, professional help from the likes of ourselves at Wisteria Care Home is available to you. We understand how important it is to cherish having your loved one at home with you as much as possible, or for as long as possible. But if you need some time for you, short term help is there.  
 
However, there may come a time when you know you need professional help on a more permanent basis, because you can no longer provide the level of care that your loved one needs. There is absolutely no shame in saying that you think they would benefit from extra help. And at Wisteria Care Home, we do everything within our power to care for your loved one as if they were our own.