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Alzheimer’s Caregiving: Caring for Yourself


Submitted by Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center


Taking care of yourself—physically and mentally—is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. This could mean asking family members and friends to help out, getting help from a home health care service, or making the decision to move your loved one into a specialized care center. Be sure to take breaks each day; spend time with family and friends; keep up with your hobbies and interests; exercise and eat healthy foods; and ask for help when you need it. Taking these actions can not only bring you some relief, but it also may help keep you from getting ill or depressed.


Asking for Help

Everyone needs help at times. However, many caregivers find it hard to ask for help. They may feel they should be able to do everything themselves, or that it’s not all right to leave the person in their care with someone else. Or maybe they can’t afford to pay someone to watch the person for an hour or two.

Here are some tips about asking for help:

  • Remind yourself that it’s okay to ask for help from family, friends, and others. You don’t have to do everything yourself. And people want to help.
  • Ask people to help out in specific ways, like making a meal, visiting the person, or taking the person out for a short time.
  • Call for help from home health care or adult day care services.
  • Use national and local resources to find out how to pay for some of this help or get respite care services.
  • You may want to join a support group of Alzheimer’s disease caregivers. These groups meet in person or online to share experiences and tips and give each other support.


Coping With Emotions and Stress

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s takes a lot of time and effort. Your job can become even harder when the person gets angry with you, hurts your feelings, or forgets who you are. Sometimes, you may feel discouraged, sad, lonely, frustrated, confused, or angry. These feelings are normal.


Here are some things you can say to yourself that might help:

  • I’m doing the best I can.
  • What I’m doing would be hard for anyone.
  • I’m not perfect, and that’s okay.
  • I can’t control some things that happen.
  • Sometimes, I just need to do what works for right now.
  • I will enjoy the moments when we can be together in peace.
  • Even when I do everything I can think of, the person with Alzheimer’s disease will still have problem behaviors because of the illness, not because of what I do.
  • I will try to get professional help if caregiving becomes too much for me.


More Tips for Self-Care

Here are other things to keep in mind as you take care of yourself:

  • Understand that you may feel powerless and hopeless about what’s happening to the person you care for.
  • Understand that you may feel a sense of loss and sadness.
  • Understand why you’ve chosen to take care of the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Ask yourself if you made this choice out of love, loyalty, a sense of duty, a religious obligation, financial concerns, fear, a habit, or self-punishment.
  • Let yourself feel day-to-day “uplifts.” These might include good feelings about the person you care for, support from other people, or time spent on your own interests.


What if Something Happened to You?

It is important to have a plan in case of your own illness, disability, or death. Consult a lawyer about setting up a living trust, durable power of attorney for health care and finances, and other estate planning tools. Consult with family and close friends to decide who will take responsibility for the person with Alzheimer’s.


Maintain a notebook for the responsible person who will assume caregiving. Such a notebook should contain the following information:

  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Current problem behaviors and possible solutions
  • Ways to calm the person with Alzheimer’s
  • Assistance needed with toileting, feeding, or grooming
  • Favorite activities or food


Preview long-term care facilities and select a few as possibilities. Share this information with the responsible person. If the person with Alzheimer’s disease is no longer able to live at home, the responsible person will be better able to carry out your wishes for long-term care.


Sugar Creek offers specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. At Sugar Creek, they understand how challenging caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias can be, and they are here to help. For more information or to set up an appointment, call 309-451-3000 or check them out online at They are located at 505 E. Vernon Ave. in Normal.