Simple Tips for Care Partners – Ideas for Taking Care of YOU!

During difficult times, it can be hard to think about anything other than what’s going on, but try not to become so consumed by stress that you overshadow your needs for well-being. Try modifying schedule to include time to take care of yourself. Beginning today, carve out some free time for just for YOU. Even if your loved one with dementia only requires minimum assistance right now, schedule some time to do something that is important to you. Try to schedule time once a week, at a minimum, though most people will need more. No one should have less. Stay consistent for your sake, but more for the sake of your loved one with dementia.
 Pick a day and time each week. Hire a companion or ask a friend or family member to stay with the person while you go out and do something on your own. Make sure that time is spent doing things that will refresh you. Many care partners feel guilty for leaving the person at home while
they go out and visit with friends, attend a book group, or participate in a sport they enjoy. It is critical to realize that if you are not happy and healthy, you can never be an effective care partner. If you don’t take breaks for your enjoyment, you will experience resentment, anger, and fatigue.
Here are some ideas:
  • Tap into your higher power. Spiritual practice provides a sense of inner peace, a feeling of being centered and calm. Make time every day, even if it is only five or ten minutes, to pray, read spiritual passages, sing your favorite hymn, or participate in a religious ritual that is meaningful to you.
  • Meet a friend for coffee.
  • Take a weekly exercise class.
  • Join a book group.
  • Get a haircut or a manicure.
  • Take a walk in the park.
  • Play with your grandchildren.
  • Check out some books or take a free class at the library.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Attend church.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Talk with someone in person, by phone, or through the Internet.
  • Don’t give up activities that are important to you.
  • Eat nutritious meals.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Participate in a sport you enjoy
Think Positive Thoughts
 Many people find that saying positive affirmations or mantras throughout the day helps reduce stress and fatigue. A mantra is a sound or words that are used to help create focus during meditation. Many people find repeating mantras to be a helpful stress-reduction technique, whether or not they meditate. Create your personal positive mantra or affirmation, and repeat it frequently. Research has shown that positive thoughts and emotions change the neurochemicals in the brain that affect our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Saying an affirmation an affirmation first thing in the morning starts you off in a positive mood and affects your decision-making for the day. If you forget to do this when you get out of bed, don’t worry; mantras are helpful in stressful situations too. An affirmation could help prevent you from lashing out at someone and bring you back to a calm state.
 Some mantras that others have found effective include:
  • This too shall pass.
  • Tomorrow is another day.
  • With God, all things are possible.
  • I will accept the things I cannot change.
  • I will look for the good in every day.
  • Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
  • I have much to celebrate.
  • I believe I can be kinder to myself.
  • My pace is perfect.
  • I am in control of my thoughts.

I realize this is all easier said than done, but if you start today and gradually make a bit more time for yourself each week, you’ll be happier, healthier, and a much better care partner.

© 2014 Jennifer A Brush, may not be reprinted or distributed without permission

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