When we are stressed, losing sleep, not feeling well or simply agitated what do we do to relieve ourselves? How do we express our frustrations? Do we run away, eat inappropriate foods, yell or scream, strike out, talk nonsensically, get confused…so do those with Alzheimer’s disease.
It is easy to forget that the same emotions that you feel as a caregiver your loved one feels too. In fact, in some cases they may simply be mirroring you. That is why it is so important to find appropriate ways to relieve your stress and theirs.
Go for a walk – if you can’t walk outdoors, try going to the Mall or making a walking path in the basement or around the house. Make sure it is safe and well lit.
Read a book – if your loved one can no longer read, read to them or get books on CD to listen to. Short stories work wonderfully! If nothing else, read the comics and laugh together!!
Dance – turn on the radio or put in a cd of music that you danced to when you were dating. Who cares if you get the steps right!!
Memorialize – write down memories or scrap book pictures of your life together. You can use it as a reminiscence tool now and in the future.
Create – draw, paint or sculpt. Get your hands dirty and let your artsy side out. Remember, stick figures and balls of clay are still considered art…it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.
Sing – tune into the music of your mind and have your own sing-a-long or karaoke show. Find sheet music or lyrics on-line to help you fill in the blanks.
Most importantly find a way to express yourself and let out your emotions. Every single one of us has a specific way that we release stress and emotion. It is what helps us to stay focused and centered. Therefore, it is important that we look for those ways in which our loved one with Alzheimer’s and dementia can express themselves too. By doing this we may be able to better help them manage their disease and find appropriate ways for dealing with any frustrations or behaviors they may encounter because of their diagnosis.
In addition, as we are helping them, they will be helping us too. For one can not truly revel in the strength of their own smile, without seeing it reflected back at them!