How to make healthy choices about caregiving for your loved one, and for yourself

Oftentimes, many of us, when making decisions as caregivers, tend to leave out a vital factor – ourselves. As caregivers of our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s, our role as the decisionmaker gets emotionally demanding. As the disease progresses, more decisions seem to pile up. As time goes by, we forget that we are the most part important of any decisionmaking.

There is no denying the many responsibilities that come with caring for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. From cost of medications, treatments and finding help, to feasibility, time management, time constraint, and simply understanding what our loved ones really want, it becomes a lot. Considering all these things take time. When making caregivers decisions, it is essential  that we take everything into consideration, including ourselves.

Many of us become challenged by the thought of looking for ways to help us with the care. One fantastic way to help, bringing great benefit to them, is considering an adult day health care facility. Adult care facilities have many advantages. Many provide many patients with increased social socialization, cognitive stimulation, and a completely different environment by getting them out of the house. Consequently, it’s a great way to provide us with a well-deserved break to run errands, meet with friends who we don’t have a chance to see, go to our own appointments, or just take a breather.

Clearly, there will be many times that our loved one’s mindset may be very negative. Their objections can and will play many tricks with our brain–feelings of frustration, to negative self-talk, to auto criticism. Not to mention, the questions and feelings of guilt attached to the financial expenses. However, when the question of “How can I make my loved one go somewhere he or she is not comfortable with, just so we have time for ourselves” arises, it is the precise moment when we must aim the focus back to us and our wellbeing.

Remember that considering ourselves and our emotional needs is healthy. When we include ourselves in all the factors that involve taking care of our loved ones with dementia / Alzheimer’s as we consider them, we are able to understand the importance of our own well-being. When looking at it as if we were advising our very best friend or perhaps our adult child, we come to realize that we deserve to be part of the final decisionmaking. When making decisions for our loved ones, we owe to ourselves to ask better questions. This will allow us to calm down the intensity of our negative self-talk. Hence, here are the questions we should allow ourselves to explore, when making decisions for our loved ones.

  • Will the decision give us time to focus on our health?

When dementia care is battled or resisted by our loved ones, asking ourselves if the decision will allow us time to focus on our health, can make us see the situation from a different perspective. As the disease progresses, so will the needs of our loved ones. If our health is not optimal and/or we aren’t purposely making sure we are in good health, we couldn’t be responsible caregivers. Having good health will make things easier for us and of course for them. Remembering that high levels of stress have an impact to our health is vital.

  • Will the decision give us time to refresh?

Caring for our loved ones not only brings high levels of stress to our lives, but may also bring feelings of grief. Having proper time to acknowledge and cope with moments of grief is healthy. Learning how to cope in a healthy fashion with the feelings that accompany the grief of losing that loved one to dementia should not be overlooked. Talking to someone about these feelings including burnouts helps us reset our outlook in life. Thus, allowing us to be more calmed when dealing with our loved ones.

  • Will the decision allow us to connect with others and do things we have been wanting to do?

Connecting with other people in our lives is crucial–people like our own spouses who we may be neglecting due to exhaustion. Friends or family members who perhaps we have not been able to talk to them or visit, can bring a boost of joy to our lives. By questioning ourselves if our caregiving can improve by taking time to socialize more and have time to enjoy our individuality, can empower us to be more compassionate and impactful. So much good can come from adding us to the equation when taking in consideration different ways of caring for our loved ones.

Looking for the years ahead in our future and how having some help caring for our loved ones can benefit us should not be overlooked. Considering what our loved ones want and feel is as important as what we need. When caring for our loved ones, viewing ourselves as equally important is perhaps the best way to honor our health, our well-being, and them. We are an equal part of the consideration when making crucial and important caring decisions.


Eileen Silverberg, who wrote this article, is a life coach in emotional management and the author of “A Warrior Of Light: A Guide Of Inner Wisdom For Challenging Times.”