The “unexpected career” of caregiving takes us by surprise, leaving the best of us feeling wrung out. Experiencing the gradual but persistent loss of a loved one to Alzheimer’s Disease can rip some apart and isolate others. The stress of assuming the multitude of caregiving roles can overwhelm anyone.

Facing Caregiver Stress with grace requires practice and perspective. Here are some tips on not just coping with your stress, but taking control of it.

• Know yourself and your feelings. What are your triggers? Which feelings give you power, which leave you robbed and listless? Accepting your feelings is the first step to taking appropriate action to move forward. We do not want to react because of how we feel, but utilize the energy feelings give us to respond well.

• Build your own personal library self-calming techniques. These are small measures that settle you down when your buttons have been pushed and red flags are blowing in the breeze. It might be taking deep breaths, a gentle hand massage, aromatherapy, or stepping out for a cup of coffee – different things work for different people. Usually caregivers don’t have a lot of time, so these have to be practices that are not only effective, but can be done in the moment.

• Adopt a clinical outlook. Most of us enter into caregiving because we are intimately bound up in a relationship with a person. Often that intimacy is the very thing that blinds us to responding effectively. Learn to step back a little bit to gain the perspective necessary to make the best decisions. This effort up front will help you to avoid some of the pitfalls and perils.

• Take time out for yourself. Do something good for yourself! Caregiving is a demanding and draining career. You need to be in great shape mentally and physically, and that can only be achieved if you take good care of yourself! You cannot give what you do not have. Invest in preventative care with meditation, massage, walks – whatever feeds your spirit and keeps you whole. The more you are on top of your game the easier it will be for you to face even the most difficult situations.

Savvy Caregiving is a training that works to give caregivers of persons with dementia knowledge and skills to adjust their outlook and improve outcomes for them and the persons they serve. It is a great way to learn about yourself, and improve your skills. If you are online and use Facebook, you are invited to join our Savvy Caregiver Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/SavvyCaregiverNorthCentralFlorida. “ Like” the page so you can receive updates on caregiving and stay in communication with other dementia caregivers. Savvy is offered throughout North Central Florida. To locate the nearest Savvy Training, or to register, contact Tom Rinkoski at Elder Options at (352) 378 – 6649, extension 126. You can also reach him via the internet at rinkoskit@agingresources.org. You can find the schedule on the web at www.agingresources.org.

By Tom Rinkoski

Tom Rinkoski is the Caregiver Support Coordinator at Elder Options.

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