How many of us have travelled by airplane and heard the familiar safety advice to place our own oxygen mask on before we assist others? The reason behind this directive is that if we aren’t able to catch our breath, we aren’t of much use to anyone else. However, how many of us who are caregivers find that we ignore our own physical, mental, and emotional needs because we are consumed with helping a person with dementia? The analogy of the airplane oxygen mask works here. If we devote all our effort to helping others, we can’t catch our own breath and we end up not being able to help anyone as effectively.
At the Alzheimer’s Association, we work to educate caregivers about the importance of self-care. Caregivers who take care of themselves aren’t taking time away from the person with dementia. Instead, they are smarter and more effective caregivers. Studies show that these caregivers are able to provide more care for a longer period of time with greater satisfaction.
Some quick tips for caregiver self-care include: be an educated caregiver, get help when needed, manage stress, plan ahead, keep up with medical appointments, and give yourself permission to be imperfect.
For more information on resources available to assist caregivers with taking care of themselves, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and North Florida Chapter at (800) 272-3900 or visit our website at www.alz.org/cnfl to learn about classes and other events taking place in your area.
By: David Huckabee
Associate Director of Programs