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Caring for your loved one living with dementia can be overwhelming and exhausting. Though you may feel as though your loved one is your top priority, failing to care for yourself and deal with your stress appropriately can take a toll on your own health, relationships and state of mind. Taking care of yourself allows you to be a better caregiver for your loved one.

Caring for your own self requires a balance of mind, body and soul. Neglecting one of these areas will inevitably affect the others. For example, not dealing with your mental and emotional stress can have physical consequences, such as high blood pressure and weakened immunity.

Here are some tips to help you stay balanced as a caregiver for your loved one living with dementia:

Eat well. When you make healthy diet choices, you may sleep better, have more energy and mental clarity, and be better able to enjoy daily activities with your loved one. Poor nutrition may lead to fatigue and illness. Take time to plan menus and when you cook, make extra to freeze for later use.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity may also improve your sleep, reduce stress and boost energy level. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise; choose physical activities that appeal to you, such as gardening, walking, dancing or joining a local exercise group or class. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Even short, five to 10 minute segments of physical activity throughout your day adds up.

Refresh your soul. Many people seek out spiritual activities to refresh their souls, but tending to your soul doesn’t have to be a religious effort. Quite meditation and focused breathing can also help calm your spirit and renew your mind.

Know the signs of burnout. Caregiving, particularly in the long term, takes a toll on every aspect of your life including family dynamic and finances. Burnout due to this stress has led to emotional and physical problems. Common signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Overreacting to minor nuisances
  • Health problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drinking, smoking or eating more
  • Avoiding leisure activities
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Feelings of resentment

If you are experiencing any of these signs of burnout, it’s important to seek help and support from others. Give yourself a break and permission to rest and enjoy your own activities. Take care of your own health through proper nutrition and exercise, and seek medical attention if needed. Join a local caregiver support group for encouragement and invaluable knowledge that can help you be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Every caregiver needs a break now and then. Respite care is available at all of our locations throughout Texas, offering the same level of care and all aspects of daily living. Respite care can be for any amount of time that is needed. The Cottages provides fully furnished rooms or apartments for respite care residents.

Day respite is another option for caregivers needing a rest or for those living with dementia to have additional interaction and appropriate daily activities. Meals are provided and all aspects of daily living during their stay at The Cottages. Day respite is based on availability.

Whether it is a full time stay, respite or day respite, The Cottages is committed to the care of your loved one.