7 Things I Did the First Year of Being a Caregiver to My Mom
When I was first told my mom had dementia, I was scared. All of the information I found online was so negative and, frankly, just depressing. I didn't know what to expect or how to handle things.
But over time, I learned a lot of small things that made a big difference in our relationship and helped make life easier for both of us. Here are 7 things that worked well for me in the early days of being a caregiver to my mom with dementia.
The 7 things that I did
I learned as much as I could about Alzheimer's. Whether that meant speaking to my mom's doctor or personally gathering as much information as I could about the condition. This helped me to understand the disease and how it would progress. It also helped me to be prepared for the changes that my mom would go through.
I made sure to keep a routine. Routines provide stability and help to reduce anxiety. So, every day, we would do the same things in the same order. This gave my mom a sense of security and made her feel comfortable.
I created a safe space for her. Alzheimer's can make people feel confused and lost. So, I made sure her bedroom was always tidy and that she had everything she needed within easy reach. This way, she always felt secure and could relax in her own space.
I kept things simple. Alzheimer's can make it difficult to process information. So, I tried to limit the number of choices she had to make throughout the day.
Stay positive for the silver linings
One of the most important things you can do is to stay positive. It can be easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of caregiving, but try to focus on the good moments as well. This doesn't mean ignoring reality, but it does mean looking for the silver lining.
Make sure to set aside time for yourself. Caregiving can be demanding, and if you don't make time to recharge, you'll quickly become overwhelmed. Find an activity that relaxes you, and make sure to do it regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time.
Don't forget to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in admitting that you can't do everything on your own.
A difficult road that we CAN navigate
Although Alzheimer's is a difficult road to travel, it is important that we are there for our loved ones as they navigate it. By keeping lines of communication open, making sure they have a set routine, and being patient with them, we can provide them with the best possible care.
Have you had to take on the role of caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's? What tips do you have for others who may be in the same situation? Please leave your thoughts, tips, and advice in the comments below.
Whether you are caring for someone who has been recently diagnosed or you have been doing this for years - we can all learn from one another and help make life a little bit easier for those affected.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?