Four points to consider when making caregiving decisions: How to make healthy choices for your loved one, and yourself
By Eileen Silverberg
Oftentimes, many of us, when making decisions as caregivers, tend to leave out a vital factor – ourselves. Caregiving for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s makes our role as the decision maker even more emotionally demanding. As the disease progresses, more decisions seem to pile up. As time goes by, we forget that we are the most important part of any decision making.
There is no denying the many responsibilities that come along with caring for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. From cost of medications, treatments, finding help, to feasibility, time management, time constraint, to simply understanding what our loved ones really want – it becomes a lot. Considering all these things takes time, making it very difficult to realize that how we feel should also be included. When making a caregiver’s decisions, it is of essential importance that we take everything into consideration, including ourselves.
As our loved ones face yet a new phase into the disease, many of us become challenged by the idea of finding ways to help us with the care. One fantastic way to help, bringing great benefit to them as well, is considering an adult day health care facility. Adult care facilities have many advantages. Many of these day health care facilities provide many dementia/Alzheimer’s patients with increased community socialization, cognitive stimulation, and a completely different environment by simply taking them out of their house. Consequently, it is a great way to provide the caregiver with a well-deserved break. This break can be used to run errands, meet with friends whom we rarely have a chance to see, go to our own appointments, or just take a breather.
Clearly, there will be many times that our loved ones’ mindset may be very negative. Their objections can and will play many tricks on our brain and may even cause feelings of frustration, negative self-talk, or auto criticism. Not to mention the questions and feelings of guilt attached to the financial expenses. However, when the question “How can I make my loved one go somewhere he or she is not comfortable with, just so we have time for ourselves?” arises, it is the precise moment when we must aim the focus back on us and our wellbeing.
When facing difficult decisions as a caregiver, here are a few things to consider:
Remember that considering ourselves and our emotional needs is healthy
When we include ourselves in consideration of all the factors that involve taking care of our loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s, we are able to understand the importance of our own wellbeing. When looking at it as if we were advising our very best friend or perhaps our adult child, we come to realize that we deserve to be part of the final decision making. When making decisions for our loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s, we owe it to ourselves to ask better questions. This in turn, will allow us to calm down the intensity of our negative self-talk and auto criticism. Hence, here are the questions we should allow ourselves to explore, when making decisions for our loved ones.
Ask yourself “Will the decision give us time to focus on our health?”
When dementia care is battled or resisted by our loved ones, asking ourselves if the decision will allow us time to focus on our health, can make us see the situation from a different perspective. As the disease progresses, so will the needs of our loved ones. If our health is not optimal and/or we are not purposely making sure we are in good health, we could not be responsible caregivers. Having good health will make things easier for us and, of course, for them. Remembering that high levels of stress have impact on our health is vital.
Ask yourself “Will the decision give us time to refresh?”
Caring for our loved ones, not only brings high levels of stress to our lives, but may bring feelings of grief. Having proper time to acknowledge and cope with moments of grief is healthy. Learning how to cope in a healthy fashion with the feelings that accompany the grief of losing that loved one to dementia should not be overlooked. Talking to someone about these feelings, including burnouts, helps us reset our outlook on life, thus allowing us to be more calmed when dealing with our loved ones.
Ask yourself “Will the decision allow us to connect with others and do things we have been wanting to do?”
Connecting with other people in our lives is crucial – people like our own spouses who we may be neglecting due to exhaustion, friends or family members who perhaps we have not been able to talk to or visit, can bring a boost of joy to our lives. The question if our caregiving can improve by taking time to socialize more and actually spending time enjoying ourselves can empower us to be more compassionate and impactful. So much good can come from adding ourselves in the consideration of different ways of caring for our loved ones.
Looking at the years ahead in our future and how using some help in caring for our loved ones can benefit us, should not be overlooked. Considering what our loved ones want and feel is as important as what WE need. Viewing ourselves as equally important while caring for them is perhaps the best way to honor our health, our well-being and them. We are an equal part of the consideration when making crucial and significant caregiver decisions.
Eileen Silverberg is a Life Coach in Emotional Management, and the author of the new book, A Warrior Of Light: A Guide Of Inner Wisdom For Challenging Times. She is also the founder and creator of E.S. Being Aloha Soul Meditation which mixes movement with meditation. She hopes that her readers will learn to release the guilt, forgive themselves, and act with love and kindness towards themselves and the one they care for. For more information visit www.eileensilverberg.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.