Dementia Web - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

DementiaWeb - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

Carers - Looking After Yourself

Looking After yourself

There are times when caring for a loved one with dementia is probably the hardest job in the world.

When you are caring for someone who has dementia it is important to remember that your needs matter too.

Make Time for Yourself

It is important to make time for yourself. To relax with a hot drink and a magazine, to have an uninterrupted bath, or have a walk in the fresh air. Some of these things may be possible if the person you care for has a regular daytime nap, although some carers will still find it difficult to relax, knowing they are still "on-call".

If you find it impossible to have time to yourself, when you can relax without feeling guilty, then you need to allow someone else to relieve you of your caring responsibilities some of the time.

There are lots of ways you can arrange to have a break from providing care. Our Getting a Break section has details about different sorts of respite care and holidays.

Get Help with Care

It is probably not good for you as a carer to be solely responsible for providing care. It is not good for the person with dementia either, as it will make adjusting to accepting care from other people that much harder, should anything happen to you (for example if you had to go into hospital).

There are a wide variety of home care options available, don't feel guilty for using them!

Don't Lose Touch

Try to keep in touch with family and friends, as this will keep you in contact with the outside world. Some friends may feel awkward that they do not really understand about dementia, or feel that they must ask continually how the person with dementia is doing. However if you can steer the conversation round, you will find that most people love to talk about themselves, and this may get you chatting more easily.

Try to accept offers of help from friends and family as much as possible, even if it seems unnecessary in the early stages of dementia. The more involved friends and family can be, the easier it will be for them to continue to spend time with the person with dementia.

Talk to People Who Understand

There may be times when even close family or friends don't understand how things are for you, or there may be situations that you don't want to share with them. A Carers Support Group is somewhere you can meet up with other carers, for mutual support and encouragement.

It is also possible to "chat" with other carers over the internet. The Alzheimer's Talking Point is an online discussion forum that provides support for people with dementia and their carers.

A number of organizations in Oxfordshire have Carers Support Workers, who can visit you at home, meet elsewhere, or talk on the phone. As well as providing you with information they offer you the opportunity to have someone to talk to, who is there just for you.

Our Who Can I Talk To? section has more information.

Have a Carers Assessment

As a carer you have the right to have your needs assessed by Social & Community Services. This allows someone outside your situation to look at what you are doing for the person you care for, and suggest what support or services are needed to maintain your health and well-being (e.g. driving lessons, or training on how to lift properly).

The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Looking after Yourself has more information.

Take Care of Your Health

You are a person, not a machine! You need certain things to help keep you well; these include:

  • Enough sleep
  • A balanced diet
  • Regular exercise, preferably in the fresh air
  • Healthcare: make time to see your GP if you feel unwell

Further Information

The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Looking after Yourself has further information, and is well worth a read.

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