Caregivers – guilt, 11 tips for looking after yourself, etc.

This is a very long fact sheet from the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK on how caregivers (called “carers” in the UK) can take care of themselves.  Though this is published with Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers in mind, I don’t think any of the tips and advice are specific to dementia caregiving.

One highlight from the fact sheet is the list of reasons a caregiver might feel guilty:

–  feeling that you are not living up to your own or other people’s expectations
–  feeling guilty about how you feel at times – eg angry or frustrated with the person you care for
–  feeling that you’re not coping as well as others, or that you should be ‘doing better’
–  feeling that you’ve had enough of your role as carer
–  feeling resentful about the impact caring has on your life and that you never ‘chose to do it’
–  not having been more patient with the person when their symptoms were developing
– taking time for your own needs or being on your own
– having to make difficult decisions, such as moving the person with dementia into a care home.

Another highlight are these 11 caregiver tips:

1- Know your limits – It is important to remember that you are only one person and there is only so much that you can do. Try to focus on what you can do and accept the things that you can’t.

2- Prioritise

3- Don’t compare yourself

4- Confront your feeling – [Accept] any negative feelings that you have. You are not alone in feeling this way – it is a normal reaction. Having negative feelings does not mean you are a bad person, and being aware of your feelings may make it easier to deal with them and move on.

5- Talk about things – Talking is often the first step to dealing with your emotions. It may seem like a small thing, but it can make you feel less isolated and stressed, and it can help to put things in perspective. If you feel that you’re really struggling, speak to someone as soon as possible.

6- Talk to other carers

7- Involve family and friends – You may find involving family and friends helps to give you a break and reduce some of your stress.

8- Ask for help

9- Think positively – Pick out and focus on some of the positive aspects of caring and supporting someone, such as your commitment to the person you care for, and your fondness for them. Think about your relationship with them and the fact you are there for them and are helping them enormously.

10- Focus on the good things – Sometimes it can be hard to see the positive things that you are achieving in your caring role. Writing things down – even small things, such as a shared joke – might be useful. When you are having a difficult day, these things can remind you of the good you are doing and that there will be better times.

11- Take a break

Here’s a link to the article:

Carers: looking after yourself
Alzheimer’s Society (UK)
Last reviewed April 2016