Advice by Alicia: New Year’s Goals for Dementia Caregivers

Alicia Seaver is the Vice President of Memory Care Operations for EPOCH Senior Living and a Certified Memory Impairment Specialist. Every month, she addresses a specific issue related to memory and memory care. If you’re interested in hearing about a particular topic, please send a note to aseaver@bridgesbyepoch.com.

Q: What are some good New Year’s resolutions for dementia caregivers to adopt in 2019?

A: Happy New Year! I love the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but I prefer to do “anytime resolutions” myself. For caregivers of loved ones with dementia, giving yourself permission to make resolutions whenever needed is a good idea. But since the beginning of the year is always a great way to kick off a new habit, here are my top three ideas of goals for caregivers.

1. Ask for help. Often.

No man is an island, and no caregiver can shoulder the burden all alone. And you shouldn’t have to! Although you’re a real-life superhero for caring for your loved one, you don’t have super powers. When you don’t ask for help, you become exhausted, cranky, depressed and just plain burned out. Before you reach that point, be brave and ask your friends and family members for help. Be specific! Ask your sister to run your mom to doctor’s appointments this week, or have a dear friend go grocery shopping for you. Consider these options to make your life even easier:

  • Develop a caregiving team made up of friends, family and local resources.
  • Ask friends and family to take on some regular task, whether providing companionship, taking over care for an afternoon, helping with yard work, etc.
  • Look into hiring a geriatric care manager who can help you solve difficult care challenges.
  • Hire assistance with chores, like a laundry or maid service.

2. Take a little time for yourself every day.

You’ve probably already heard the advice to “take time for yourself” ad nauseum. But I’m going to say it again – take time for yourself! No one can work constantly, and if you try, you’ll just end up causing more harm than good. We all have this innate feeling that not devoting every waking moment to caring for our loved ones is somehow selfish. Well, it’s not! How can you expect to care for your senior if you aren’t caring for yourself? Here are a few ways you can be kind to yourself for a few minutes on a daily basis:

  • Spend five minutes each day meditating or doing a breathing exercise. This is easy to do before you get out of bed or right before you go to sleep.
  • Do mini-workouts (like jumping jacks for 10 seconds at a time) to get your blood pumping and work off some stress.
  • Escape into a good book or podcast.
  • Spend some time with friends, whether through a coffee date or a phone call.
  • Take a walk around the block to get some fresh air.

3. Schedule respite breaks for yourself and your senior.

Everyone needs a break. Caregivers especially. While asking for help and doing nice things for yourself is important, it’s also important to schedule some actual, lengthy breaks where you’re away from your senior loved one and can handle your daily tasks or simply take a nap. Some suggestions:

  • Hire home care to come in for a few hours a week.
  • Look for adult day care programs in your area – these can be offered at senior centers or by senior living communities that also do memory care like Bridges® by EPOCH.
  • Consider scheduling respite care for your senior with dementia. Respite care is a short-term stay at a community like Bridges® by EPOCH, allowing your loved one to experience all the benefits of the community plus high-level care. This is an excellent option if you need to go out of town or see how your senior enjoys the community lifestyle.

By making these resolutions a part of your life in 2019, you’ll find yourself more refreshed, recharged and able to be the best caregiver possible to your loved one with dementia.

Enhancing Quality of Life

Bridges® by EPOCH communities have been developed from the ground up to anticipate, meet and exceed the needs of our residents and their families. Our team of remarkable people, the exceptional care and services we offer and the purposeful design of our buildings all combine to create the most rewarding, secure and nurturing lifestyle possible for our residents.

We understand the concern families feel about ensuring quality of life for loved ones. That’s why, at Bridges® by EPOCH, we offer a wellness-centered lifestyle that focuses on reinforcing individual strength so residents enjoy heightened confidence and self-esteem. Ultimately, we provide everything residents need to thrive and rediscover a life with purpose.

Inspiration for Success

At our Bridges® by EPOCH communities, we work closely with families to gain necessary insight and deeper understanding into the lives of our residents upon admission. With this initial information, along with what our exceptional team members learn about our residents each and every day, we are best prepared to provide highly individualized programming for our residents.