A dear friend once gave me a copy of her book, to remind me I needed to take care of Edie, as well as taking care of my parents.
"Take Your Oxygen First" is one of many books written by Leeza Gibbons, and it had a great impact on me.
It is easy to forget about yourself when caring for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Many caregivers also have jobs outside the home, and plenty are raising children. It can be overwhelming, even if "all you do" is take care of your loved one.
Leeza took the name of the book she co-authored with James Huysman. PsyD, LCSW and Rosemary DeAngelis Laird, M.D., from the safety instructions you get upon boarding an airplane. You are told that in case of emergency, before you help your children or anyone else, you must take the oxygen mask first; if you lack oxygen and pass out, you won't be much help to anyone!
The same applies when caring for your loved one. You have to take care of your physical and emotional well being as well.
Here are some ideas to help you get oxygenated:
• Take a few minutes every day just to take a deep breath; think about the positive things in your life.
• Make a weekly date night and don't cancel it; if you must reschedule, do so, but don't cancel. You and your significant other need this time together.
• If you are not in a relationship, spend time with friends. Do not talk about the stress of caring for your loved one. This time is your break from caregiving!
• Check out adult care centers. Your doctor can help you find one where they specialize in Alzheimer's patients.
• Get a hobby. Leeza recommends scrapbooking. Believe it or not, this can not only help you preserve memories, but it can also be very relaxing and rewarding.
• Pamper yourself. Get a mani-pedi with an extended foot massage.
• Don't set your own passions aside. If you love to read, write, or watch old movies, make time to do it.
I know taking care of yourself is easier said than done. But keep in mind that if you're not well, there may be no one else to take care of your loved one.
Take your oxygen first!
Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. is an actress, author and advocate for people suffering from Alzheimer's. She and her husband Neal live with their 6 dogs, 4 1/2 cats, 3 loud parrots and an imaginary skunk. Author's website Email the author