I wrote a post not long ago honoring a fellow caregiver who had passed away unexpectedly. We knew she had her own health issues, but it was still a shock to see she passed so soon after her father’s death. After a talk with a dear friend and seeing a post from another caregiver asking about in short how to take care of yourself while caring for someone else.
In short, its not easy. I know. I was there. I tried, but I am a stress eater and well, I paid for it after mom passed. 2 months after she passed, I was admitted to the hospital for possible heart issues. It ended up being one heck of a major panic attack. It literally felt like a heart attack. I wish I could have looked into the future to see what I was doing to myself. I also gained a lot of weight (that I am trying to lose currently).
Self care is so important. Yes, I know, its easier said than done. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be 5 min in the bathroom crying and washing your face because you just can’t hold it in anymore. It can be taking that much needed soak in the tub and giving your self some self care. I can be anything small. But, it also evolves eating right and maybe trying to exercise. I say try because the amount of energy spent can wear you out. Taking a walk alone will do a lot of good. Taking time for yourself in any way is good for you. But, that isn’t all that self care is. Below are ideas for self care and what happens if you don’t take care of yourself.
When I was taking care of mom, I really had no one to talk to outside my circle that was really there anytime I needed it and also understood. Yes, I have friends that I could talk to, but they couldn’t relate to what I was really dealing with. Dementia is a disease that is different for everyone. It has its good days, bad days, and the ugly days. The face of dementia is different day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes minute by minute. It got to the point that my anxiety went through the roof because I didn’t know what to expect. The worst day for me was when mom said she wanted to go home. After that conversation with her, I came in and cried my heart out. It was was utterly devastating. I will tell you the best thing you can do for yourself, don’t hold it in. It will cause you more health problems in the long run.
One thing that isn’t listed on here is to keep up with your own doctor appointments. Things can sneak up on you. There are cases where caregivers die before their caring is done. It is a scary reality. I was fortunate enough to have the help so I could take care of me. Mom always wanted me to take care of me. I tried, but I still, after 1 1/2 years, I am still trying to undo all the damage. Mental health is getting better quicker than the physical health.
My best piece of advice out of all of this… learn to find joy in each day. There were several occasions where I was able to find that joy. One was the day my son got his driving permit. Finding joy in each day, as small as it may be, is something that you can reflect on. It will carry you through days that seem impossible.