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How to Be a Healthy Caregiver

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...

Enhancing Daily Life: Creating a Daily Plan

Familiarity with schedule and settings is often important for people with dementia. Organization of daily activities can help reduce agitation and frustration for your loved one living with dementia. Daily plans are helpful both for you, the caregiver, as well as your loved one. Creating a daily plan is one way you can help reduce stress and may help improve your loved one’s mood. With a plan in place, you can spend more time doing activities that provide meaning and enjoyment for a person with dementia. Planning daily activities may take some time for you to experiment and make adjustments based on what works best. Some daily activities you may want to include in your plan include: household chores, washing vegetables and doing dishes, personal care, music, arts and crafts, playing cards, watching TV or a movie, gardening, physical activity or exercise, reading, puzzles, social and spiritual activities. Here are some tips to help you create a daily plan: Consider your loved one’s likes, dislikes, abilities and interests. Keep in mind how your loved one used to structure his or her day prior to dementia. Try to keep things as “normal” as possible. Provide ample time for meals, bathing and dressing, as these activities may take longer. Think about what activities work best, and which don’t. Success of a particular activity may vary from day to day. Set regular times for waking up and going to bed. This is especially important if your loved one struggles with sleep issues or sundowning. Include time for frequent breaks and rest. You do not need to fill every minute of the day...