I’ve found that you can lose pieces of yourself little by little when you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. A sacrifice here, missing a night out with friends there; the list goes on until one day you find yourself alone and wondering what happened to the person you used to be.
The parts I’ve played over the last five years since my father’s diagnosis range from pillar of strength to victim and everything in between.
I’ve spent most of my twenties caring for my father with my mother, and sometimes it seemed almost too much to bear. I’ve never regretted my decision to help, but at times I’ve felt very frustrated and even resentful that I missed out on many of the experiences that most 20-somethings go through, such as moving out on my own and starting an independent life for myself outside of the family. I’ve spoken to other people my age in similar situations and it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way but doesn’t make it any easier.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be a 24/7 job and sometimes it’s impossible to get even a single hour to yourself. If you feel like you are losing your quality of life little by little – I say ‘take it back’ little by little. You can’t put your life on hold indefinitely. Everybody has their own unique situation, but one thing rings true for all of us: we deserve to be happy.
You have to take care of yourself while taking care of someone else. Do things for yourself everyday like learning to cook a simple, healthy meal or take ten minutes to stretch in the morning. Little by little these things will add up and soon you will become a happier, healthier person – and a better caregiver.
I realize now that it is possible to care for someone and also care for yourself. This is the message that CareLiving is bringing to the world.
In my writings on the CareLiving blog, my focus will be on personal health, both mental and physical.
Health and fitness are important to me because how you feel is directly connected to how you deal with things in your life. If I don’t feel healthy and have low energy, that low energy is evident in everything I do. When you are caring for others it can be easy to forget to care for yourself and if you are not properly caring for yourself, how can you properly care for your loved one?