When someone has Alzheimer’s the world no longer makes sense to them the way it used to. They come to rely on their primary caregiver, often a spouse, as the person who keeps them safe and guides them through their every day.
It isn’t uncommon for someone with memory loss to become anxious when they can’t see their caregiver spouse. They may be afraid of what might happen if you aren’t there to help them, or even afraid you will leave them. This fear often leads to what is referred to as shadowing – meaning they become your shadow trying to follow you everywhere, even to the bathroom or stand by your side as you wash dishes. And while they aren’t trying to bother you, it can be exhausting and difficult to get a break.
How are you supposed to get any rest or relief if someone is following you around all the time?
It is important to take time for yourself. Even if your spouse doesn’t agree or protests.
There is a tremendous amount of stress on primary caregivers, and if you don’t take time to shower, rest, socialize or even get a haircut, it is easy to become burned out.
Recruit a Trusted Helper
Don’t feel guilty about asking a trusted family member or friend to help for a few hours, or hire someone from a home health agency to help out. Yes, your spouse might seem suspicious or protest the change, but they will be alright. If you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis, the more comfortable everyone will become.
Getting a Helper has Worked for Other Families
For example, a primary caregiver we know had been taking care of her spouse with dementia. The spouse shadowed her most of the day. Even putting away dishes became difficult as he was always getting in front of her as she tried to reach the cabinets.
She hired an aide to come help two days a week with laundry, cleaning, and cooking. She hadn’t planned on leaving her spouse alone with the aide, she just knew she needed help.
After a few weeks, the wife realized she enjoyed having the aide there not only for the help but also to have someone talk to. This was a pretty good sign she needed to take more time for herself and start socializing with friends again.
Even though her husband still preferred that she do everything for him, he came to recognize the aide as someone who could be trusted as well. The wife started leaving the house to run errands alone or go visit her grandchildren knowing that even if her husband protested he was in good hands.
Don’t Feel Guilty about taking Time for Yourself When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s give yourself a break. Taking some time away is ultimately good for you, and your spouse, as a rested caregiver is better than an exhausted and frustrated one.
Learn More about Caring for Someone with Dementia
Get more caregiver tips from The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Richmond. Our communities are dedicated to providing the best care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We also offer a wide range of information and events to help educate those serving as primary caregivers at home.
Contact us for more information about our communities.