I want to make a resolution to be a better caregiver to my mom who has Alzheimer’s. What are some things I can do to achieve my goal?

Happy New Year and kudos to you for the goal you wish to accomplish and maintain. Caregiving with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a daunting task, and one in which most caregivers get burned out and break down emotionally and/or become physically ill. The first thing to remember in your thoughtful resolution is to take care of yourself. You need to focus on a healthy lifestyle for the mind, body and spirit.

The majority of caregivers forget while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia the two “A” words — “Ask” and “Accept,” meaning never hesitate to ask for help when you need it and to accept the help once it is offered. Other people want to assist you, so allow them to lend a hand.

In focusing on your mind, body and spirit, it is important to do things for yourself that will keep you energized and promote a more positive outlook. Make sure you get plenty of physical exercise, such as walking at least 30 minutes a day, and practice healthy lifestyle options when it comes to diet and nutrition. Find a few minutes a day to nourish your inner self through meditation, prayer, reading, appreciating the arts or just being silent. Keep an “affirmation file” when you get the blues and try to remove any guilt feelings you may have in the way you are caregiving. And try to get enough rest.

Joining a support group can assist you tremendously in being a better caregiver. Sharing your story and experiences with others can help you release some emotional burdens, and could also help those around you who are struggling with the same caregiving challenges. Support services, educational opportunities and additional resources can all benefit you as you care for your mom.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.