A Helicopter Style of Alzheimer's Caring
Last updated: March 2023
Welcome to Caregiver - You are Doing Too Much 101. In today's lesson, we will discuss the helicopter style of caring and the importance of taking breaks for self-care as you care for your LOWD (loved one with dementia). Alright, class, let's sharpen those pencils and get to work!
What is helicopter caring?
A helicopter style of caring comes from the term helicopter parenting, which often refers to a style of parents who, like helicopters, hover and oversee every aspect of their child's life.
Yup, overhead, oversee, and overdo. I was an overly focused caregiver to my mom with Alzheimer's, and I was doing too much! In my own defense, I used this style of caring to prevent my mom from experiencing getting hurt, being misunderstood, and protecting her independence. Still, all that attention was just a recipe for my own burnout.
Are you helicopter caring?
Yes, attention. That is the keyword, especially when speaking about a helicopter-style of caring. Am I right? Well, it is also the key question I would like to propose. How much attention do you give to yourself? How much attention do you give to your loved one?
If you are like me, you are giving them a lot - so much that it takes away from the attention you should give yourself. This was the case for me. I made it incredibly difficult to prioritize any type of wellness in my life specific to my mental and physical health. My reasoning for justifying this? I was preserving as much normalcy for my mom as possible.
Why does helicopter caring happen?
As mom's caregiver, I felt the enormous weight of keeping her busy, entertained, and mentally stimulated. Admittedly, I gave my mom all my attention to the point that I became a helicopter caregiver. I did not realize then that monitoring my mom's everyday engagement and interaction, in a sense, was preventing me from being present for my own needs. But I love my mom and wanted to give her purpose and hope after being diagnosed.
At the age of 58, my mom was living with early-onset Alzheimer's, and life became very different from the one she was accustomed to living. Never one to catch sitting down relaxing, my mom was on the go from before the sun came up to after the moon was shining bright in the sky. At the time, I admired this about her, her energy, and her grind, but I realized later, when I became her full-time caregiver, that it may not have been the healthiest form of living.
How do we prevent overbearing care?
To be honest, the first step for me was to extend grace to myself for neglecting my needs. My second step is allowing myself to prioritize my focus on my immediate mental and physical needs and creating a wellness routine that I could easily practice daily, whether staying active every day or sitting with a book to read at night. It made a difference in the style of care for my mom.
Who knew that by making an effort to prioritize your own health, you create the space to rock out caring for others?
Ok, class, did you get all that? I'm curious to learn what your style of caring is! How do you prioritize self-care practices for your life? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Have you or your loved one been diagnosed with Mild cognitive impairment?