How do you cope with caregiver stress?

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I'd like to start a open discussion for all us care givers to type out little things we do each week that is helpful to ease the care giver stress and avoid burnout. We may just give and get good little tips and advice. I'll go first: each week I take time for myself by watching a movie I wanted to see, a manicure, go to lake and feed ducks and walk!! Just a few things I enjoy!! Walking each day is a great way to relive stress and depression.

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Taking on the roll as a full-time caregiver for your loved one can be extremely stressful coming from experience. There are many things I do to try & relax! I love music! When times get rough I will put on my favorite tunes & cook up a new recipe. Strategic games like words with friends or soduko help me as well! You can't go wrong with a nice relaxing bath, music & light a few nice smelling candles! Taking on a light project like scrapbooking or organizing your photo albums may be nice for you as well as your loved one. You need some "me" time to stay sane. Just know that "the man upstairs" WILL give you strength. I know we have all heard this a million times but God does not give us things we cannot handle. You are stronger than you realize. Good luck & God Bless!
This was really not a respite for myself as a caregiver but I read stories to my father, mother-in-law and stepfather (all had alzheimers in the span of 5 years together). I was the primary caregiver for 2 of them and frequent visitor to the nursing home for 1 of them. I found that reading and interpreting the stories not only calmed them but calmed me down as well because I had to focus on summarizing the stories. They enjoyed the stories immensely especially stories on Greek mythology and bible stories. I also was a licensed massage therapist and gave them back rubs and rubbed their arms and legs very gently. That made them feel better and made me feel better that I could help them. Seniors need a sense of touch, not all of them by means but if you are close to them and they like having you hold their hand, it might be something they like. Sometimes just holding their hand can work too and sitting quietly. For myself, I would take walks, play with my animals, ride my bike etc. to relieve stress.
I have begun exercising....and I'm a person who "hates" to sweat! But, I have found that it really helps to relieve the stress, and I awake the next day ready to tackle any challenges that I'm faced with...
What a good idea to start this discussion topic! I'm always looking for new and different ideas to de-stress during this difficult time in life. As for me, I have gotten into the habit of starting my day with a delicious cup of coffee (with Bailey's creamer - yum!) and doing all I can to walk daily. Since one of my hobbies is photography, I take my camera along on my walks and search for interesting and unique things to photograph; I make it my point to never return home without at least a few photos. In the late-evening, I view the photos on my computer, crop them and, occasionally, share them with friends. This simple little technique allows me to focus my attentions on my outdoor environment rather than family problems and, viewing the photos later, lets me relive the walk and enjoy my hobby further. Some other things I do to relax include escaping "into" movies as time permits, reading an occasional book, and tending to plants and enjoying seeing them thrive, e-mailing and "Facebooking" with friends, occasional meditation, and sometimes merely staring out a window to let my mind wander to happier times and daydream.
After almost 10 months of caring for my mother I am finally getting help. I am hiring a woman to take my mom to the local Senior Center 2 or 3 days a week for bingo and/or bridge. This way she will get much needed socialization and I will get a much needed break from her constant repetative questions. Hopefully this will work. I'll keep you all upadated! Another thing I've learned is to write her a note each day. Usually it says what day it is and the date, where everyone in the family is, etc.. That way when she starts obsessing about things, I just tell her to look at her note.
Hi everyone, I had to make huge changes as something just had to give. Working fulltime at work, then at home being a fulltime caregiver for Mom with late stage alzhimers was horrific. Moms lived with us over 3 years and been incontinent for over 2 1/2 years, its a killer running to and from the bathroom, bathing, etc. I hated the ratrace, race to work when my caretaker showed up, race home, etc. I finally left my job, retired early, in August. The best part is this... I kept my fulltime helper but reduced her hours to just 3, on 3 mornings, to come in and get Mom up and bathe and dress her. As of today, I hired a weekend caretaker so I can have a life again with my husband and family, without the continuous being there by Mom side for her every need. I am so excited to be on the "other side" and when Mom has to eat, get bathed, or make a bathroom trip, I can enjoy my family and grandchildren finally, knowing Moms in good hands with me there. I still have the bulk of the daily and nightly care but that morning time to me is the absolute toughest. I feel a huge relief inside. I read about caretakers stress causing the caretaker to die first sometimes, I decided its time for a big change. I have never felt better. I do however see my Moms walking diminish, even with my helping her with two hands, and I fear a hoya lift is in the near future. So, I say hire someone , get up and have a coffee alone, and then enjoy your parent in a better frame of mind. Cheers to you all.
Astoria22...you came to this decision because it is too much for you. It is normal to feel the guilt as you are actually doing what you know is the right thing. If you back out now, you will only reach the same conclusion again and carry through with your original plan....so do it now so you don't have to go through this process twice. You have to take care of yourself...do not beat yourself up!
I like to tend my plants, cook, paint some walls, surf the internet looking at beautiful gardens and interior design. I also like to keep an embroidery project going because that is something that can be set aside when there are interruptions and duties calling. I painted my daughter's dresser last week. It took me all week to do it, but it got done! It is very isolating to have to stay close to home but having little projects here and there give me a sense of accomplishment.
astoria22...Your feelings of backing out are normal. At first it was heartbreaking for me too, but now, 4 months later, I am so glad we took that step. Dementia only gets worse and his has declined very much in these past 4 months. He is being cared for by skilled, trained people and is getting 24 hr better care than I could do. He refers to it as "home" now. Instead of me running myself crazy 24/7, I visit very often, every other day or daily, and take him out for rides, snacks, etc. and our time together is special time. When he "acts up" I take him back "home" where there is immediate help waiting. It is such a relief to have that safety net available. Yes I miss him very much...I miss the way we used to be....but those days are gone and I have made a wise decision which is keeping him safe and cared for. He can't think rationally now, you have to be the strong one for both you. I was in it so deep that I was letting the crazy thinking of his be our reality....then I realized that and made the move. I know it
is one of the hardest things to do and know what you are going through. Some things are just hard and there's no easy out. Love to you and yours and may God comfort you.
Stress related abdominal issues kept me in bed as well...so I have changed my diet: cut out: sugar, soda, alcohol, gluten, major dairy. Taking supplements. Eating healthy. This was hard for a sweet tooth diet 7-up addict. But, I feel so much better. Eating healthy and trying to take care of myself.
I also have a friend that does Reiki - a japanese healing. It worked wonders! Going to try Vini yoga which is suppose to be healing for older people and their joints. As I feel better, I can cope better.

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