The End-Stages of Alzheimer's: Self-Care for the Caregiver
Mom and I have been best friends since I could remember and when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's 10 years ago, our friendship became closer than ever. We started our journey from the diagnosis with many detours as you can imagine and now that she is in the end stages, our new routine has entailed more time for my own care.
My time for self-care includes making investments.
- Investing with a trainer
- Investing with a therapist
- Investing with a housecleaner
My self-care may look or read differently from the typical wellness pursuits like indulging in a manicure or Uber Eats meal at home (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with those things). That’s the cool part about self-care. It is totally customizable. The care of your needs boils down to whatever you feel will nourish your soul.
As I process the anticipatory grief of losing my mom, I conscientiously make efforts to stay present and connected with my physical and mental needs.
I know you hear me out there! As caregivers, we are 100 percent in tune with the needs of our loved ones, and we sometimes fall into the practice of neglecting our own care. No shame or judgment here, trust me! I have neglected my own needs many times over with the burnout scars to prove it!
So for me, self-care is more specific to a healthy body and mind. Working with professionals is one way to guarantee success in attaining these goals. In working with a professional, I am guaranteed an educational experience that I can use to benefit me years after my time with their services has ended. That is why I call this type of self-care an investment. It's because of the appreciation in value over a period of time.
Investing in my physical health
Working out with a fitness professional is intense, and I mean both physically and financially, but this is an investment. Sometimes, you have to feel the impact to remain committed to the goal.
As a millennial caregiver, I tend to find myself gravitating toward results-driven endeavors. After just two weeks with a personal trainer, my body is stronger, I am sleeping better and my appetite is increasing. Working out has become a congratulatory experience for me ensuring that my goals are achieved with both speed and certainty.
Investing in my mental health
Making the decision to invest in a therapist came with a lot of hesitation. Therapy, I mean where do I begin? It can be such a great and powerful experience and also such a revelatory and scary one.
So much unpacking comes from the one on one time and because I have pushed my own needs so far back down the closet and packed away in a very much dusty and rusty dark trunk. I know it will take some gentle kindness to apply opening. It will take some acknowledgement in knowing that I too deserve the care, the consideration and the moment. I trust in a licensed professional to be the best person for the job.
Investing in my home health
I’m just going to come out and say it: Your home serves as a sanctuary for respite. And now I need to know I’m not alone here, lol. Who else gets so “in the zone” while giving care to your loved one that you burnout and become too tired to wash the dishes? Or you become too tired to do the laundry that's staring at you with judgement as it lays piled up in the corner of that room? Because honestly, that used to happen to me at least 3 times a week.
It can get a bit intense, so when I need a break from it all, I love to schedule a housecleaning service and give myself permission to drop everything and take a 30-minute break to just breathe. So if you were like me and looking for permission to breathe, consider it granted.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I could get a do-over in how I cared for myself in the beginning of my caregiving journey! But if it weren’t for those burnout moments, I wouldn’t have learned how essential practicing wellness is.
So, instead of erasing my mistakes, I’m expressing gratitude for them because of the lesson that was learned… and you should do the same!
What’s one lesson you learned from a caregiving moment that made you choose to invest in self-care recently?
How are you doing?