Providing full- or part-time care for a loved one managing mental health challenges like depression, anxiety or the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be overwhelming.
Caregiving often involves long hours managing medications, providing physical support, navigating complex health conditions and juggling other family and career obligations. Add to that the stress of ensuring those with mental health challenges are emotionally supported, it can be easy for caregivers to experience burnout and forget to take care of themselves, too.
If you are caring for a patient, resident or loved one, consider these tips to support your own mental health:
- Take a Break from the News: While it is important to stay informed, too much negative coverage can be upsetting. Take periodic breaks from watching, reading or listening to the news.
- Pause Social Media: For the same reasons the news can be upsetting, social media can cause stress and anxiety as well. Step away from social media periodically to give yourself a break from the information overload.
- Take Care of Your Own Health: Try to eat healthy and well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Find Ways to Relax: Squeeze in a moment to read, stretch and breathe. Relaxation techniques like meditation and visualization can help to ease stress.
- Connect with Others: Find ways to connect to friends, loved ones or others with shared experiences. Even if you don’t have much time to connect in-person, quick video calls, text messages and phone calls can help you feel grounded.
- Join an Online Support Group: Finding an online group of like-minded people navigating the same challenge can be helpful for crowdsourcing answers to difficult questions and providing a judgment-free space to vent.
- Make a (Flexible) Plan: Establishing routines is essential to caring for an aging individual managing behavioral health challenges. Having some things planned out can also help with stress or anxiety about the unknown.
- Seek Help for Yourself When Needed: If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor or doctor to find help. Caring for yourself is an important part of caring for others.
Finally, keep in mind that you’re trying your best and your loved one is grateful, even if they can’t express it. Should behavioral symptoms become unmanageable, seek assistance from an experienced geriatric mental health treatment provider like Oceans Behavioral Hospital.
Oceans is passionate about helping older adults and seniors experiencing depression, anxiety, behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and other mental health issues. Utilizing proven, innovative and progressive therapies, Oceans’ qualified professionals strive to promote long-term wellness through a range of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric counseling and treatment options.