CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s: Managing self-care

The CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s Survey Team

In an effort to raise awareness, educate our community, reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease and assist families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, this month’s article highlights the importance of managing your own self-care.

When we are caring for another person we often hear this statement from well meaning family and friends, “Remember to take care of yourself.” This statement can feel and sound impossible especially when the person you are caring for has Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia. It is easy to fall into a routine where we put ourselves and our own self-care on the back burner. This is especially common when you are caring for your spouse or partner. Before we know it we have become over whelmed with all that is involved with caring for another person. This month’s article will explore what it means to manage our own self care.

The evidence based program Powerful Tools for Caregivers© reminds caregivers that managing self-care means learning what we can do to take better care of ourselves and striving to thrive as individuals while caring for another person.

To manage our own self-care involves these principles:

Take responsibility for your own personal well being and for getting your needs met. Maintain the activities and relationships that are meaningful to you.

Have realistic expectations. It’s important to fully understand the care receiver’s medical condition. Be realistic about what that person can do and be realistic about what you can do. Be mindful about trying to do the impossible.

Focus on what you can do. Seek to have a clear picture of what you can and cannot change. It is vital to accept or let go of what you cannot change. And, seek solutions to what you can change.

Communicate effectively with others. This includes your family member, friends, health care providers and the person you care for. We can not expect others to know what we need. We must understand that if we have a problem and don’t tell people about it, we can’t expect them to do anything about it.

Deal with our emotions. There will be emotional ups and downs on the caregiving journey. Find ways to manage your emotions. It is important to control our emotions rather than allowing our emotions to control us.

Set goals and work toward them. It is true that chronic illness changes our lives, but how our life changes depends on many things:
• How we respond to the challenges we face.
• Whether we take responsibility for managing our self-care
• Whether we seek solutions to problems or believe “there is nothing we can do.”

As you seek to manage taking better care of yourself know that there are many community resources to assist and guide you on this journey. You must learn to put yourself first. You cannot be anything for anybody unless you take care of yourself first.

It is up to you. Be mindful that caring for another person with a chronic illness is like running a marathon rather than a sprint.

Reach out today if you feel you need guidance and support with self-care.
Source: Powerful Tools for Caregivers©

For caregiver support and information about local resources contact Jayne Mund, caregiver consultant at 763-689-8811. For more information about the CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s call Julie Tooker at 763-691-6192.
Your input and assistance is valuable. Let’s ACT together to create and sustain a dementia friendly community. There is Hope. There is Help.

• Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group meets the third Tuesday of the month from 10-11:30 a.m. at Mill Ridge Terrace, 235 Fern St. N., Cambridge. Contact Molly Carlson for more information at [email protected] or call 763-691-6172

• Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, www.alz.org/mnnd, 800-272-3900, 24-hour helpline.