It’s time to make a New Year’s resolution to be healthy caregivers. You and your siblings cannot care for your mom properly unless you first care for yourselves.
Recognize that conflict usually affects the primary caregiver more so than any other member of the family. For the primary caregiver, it can be frustrating to have other siblings make caregiving suggestions that are unreasonable because they’re based on a lack of knowledge and/or understanding of your mom’s condition and abilities.
That’s why it is important to become educated caregivers. As the disease progresses, new challenges in caregiving will arise. Know what resources are available. Adult day care, in-home assistance, community programs and long-term care are among the resources found at Alzheimer’s Services or by visiting alzbr.org.
Learn the two A’s — ask for help and accept help. It is not a failure as a caregiver to seek assistance from others. Accept that assistance gratefully and without guilt. Additionally, split the caregiving duties among siblings, noting what each one is capable of doing as this avoids placing all the responsibility on one person.
Stress can cause tension among your siblings in the management of your mother’s care. Physical problems can arise in caregivers as well as emotional outbursts or behavioral changes. Family members should recognize when stress limits are reached and practice relaxation techniques or enjoy pleasurable activities like dining with friends, playing sports or just taking a break to rest. Sometimes, when stress levels peak and splitting responsibilities fail, it might be helpful to engage the services of a mediator as it is helpful to involve a neutral third party.
Alzheimer’s disease is unique to every person. Accept the changes that occur in your mom. If you and your siblings have not done so already, do some legal and financial planning.
As the disease progresses, your mom’s needs will change and this might require care beyond what you and your siblings can provide on your own. Look into care services such as in-home or residential care. You and your siblings also could benefit from joining a support group, a setting in which you could talk freely and openly about the ups and downs of caregiving with those sharing a similar journey. Alzheimer's Services has various caregiver support groups in the 10-parish area.
For the new year, promise yourselves to be realistic. Grieve your losses, but also don’t forget to focus on those moments of joy that filter in and out with your mom each day. Share these times and moments with your mom among all the siblings.
Give yourselves credit for all you do for your mom. At the end of each day, adopt a mantra that reminds you all that you are doing the best you can. Your mom needs you and your siblings, and you are all there for her. That should make you all feel proud. Take care of yourselves, and above all, resolve to be healthy caregivers.
Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.