Are you a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Do you often feel overwhelmed? You may be putting your own health at risk. It’s important to remember that neglecting your own well-being can be harmful to you both.
The best thing you can do for the person you are caring for is to stay physically and emotionally strong. Here’s how:
1. See the doctor
Be sure to visit your physician regularly (at least annually), and listen to what your body is telling you.
Any exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness, or changes in appetite or behavior should be taken seriously. Ignoring these symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline.
If you are caring for someone in the late-stages of Alzheimer's, talk to your health care provider about the seasonal flu shot. Being vaccinated protects both you and the person you are caring for.
2. Get Moving
No doubt you know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy — it can help relieve stress, prevent disease and make you feel good. But finding the time to exercise is another story. Trying using these simple tips:
- Start small.
While it is recommended that you get 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week, even 10 minutes a day can help. Fit in what you can, and work toward a goal.
- Exercise at home
When the person with dementia naps, pull out a yoga mat and stretch, set up a stationary bike, or try exercise tapes.
- Find something you love
If you enjoy the activity, it will be easier to make it a habit.
There also are many ways you can be active with the person with dementia:
- Take a walk together outside to enjoy the fresh air
- Go to the mall and take a stroll indoors
- Do seated exercises at home
- Dance together to favorite music
- Garden or do other routine activities that you both enjoy
3. Eat Well.
Heart-healthy eating is important for overall health and may help protect the brain. Having a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats will help keep your immune systems strong, and your well-being strong. In addition, you can try new recipes and involve the person with dementia.