Immediate family members often become full-time caregivers for a senior loved one — especially if a parent or spouse is struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, it can also cause a range of challenging and upsetting emotions and, if unaddressed, can eventually impact physical health as well.
The Kensington Reston and Hilarity for Charity (HFC) want to be your partners in care, and help support those who are selflessly caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
These two organizations recently partnered to create CareCon, a virtual event meant to educate and inspire caregivers.
Learn more about this complimentary event, including why self care for caregivers is essential and the types of innovative support available with The Kensington Reston.
How CareCon supports and inspires family caregivers
CareCon was designed specifically for family caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
These types of caregivers face unique challenges, and need the right type of support to feel empowered and inspired.
The Kensington Reston and HFC understand that caregivers can face unique challenges in all aspects of caregiving, and know the benefits of receiving support to feel empowered and inspired.
How The Kensington Reston and HFC work to empower caregivers
The Kensington Reston is an assisted living community that offers specialized memory care and numerous caregiver support events. Our monthly support group with Dr. Anya is one of many events we have listed on our website.
HFC is a non-profit movement led by Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen. It was created to care for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and activate the next generation of advocates.
Their free, virtual event included the following topics and workshops:
- Caring for caregivers
- Driving awareness and inspiring change
- Caring for brains and investing in brain health
- Tips to minimize caregiver stress
- Steps to managing Alzheimer’s and dementia
- How to connect with a loved one through music
- Caregiver self-care tips
CareCon’s focus is on celebrating caregivers and bolstering their caregiving journeys.
Caregiving is a selfless but challenging role. Read on to learn more about why self-care for caregivers is so important, and how to implement these tips in your life.
How to identify the signs of caregiver stress and burnout
Studies have found that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. provides care to another adult as an informal caregiver — meaning they are not a trained health care professional.
Despite the significant role they play in an aging parent or spouse’s life, many of these caregivers don’t consider themselves to be an actual caregiver.
As a result, not identifying as a caregiver can mean many of these family members aren’t allowing themselves access to the right support.
Even if a caregiver is a naturally caring and giving person, the frustrations and emotions that come with caring for a loved one in need can take a toll over time.
Signs of caregiver burnout
As a caregiver gives more and more time to their loved one, they may start to neglect their own needs, and feel exhausted, depressed, or socially isolated.
Eventually, they may begin to feel sick themselves, and unable to provide the right amount of care to a loved one.
The signs of caregiver stress and burnout include:
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Feeling overwhelmed and always worried
- Feeling tired all day
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Losing or gaining weight
- Becoming angry or irritated quickly
- Developing pains, headaches, or other physical ailments
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
If you develop these signs or symptoms, it’s time to ask for help and to discover your most effective stress-reducing activities.
How to navigate caregiver stress
To be an effective caregiver, you must take care of yourself first.
Many caregivers are reluctant to get help for themselves because they aren’t used to asking for it. They’ve likely handled most things in life on their own.
However, asking for help as a caregiver is yet another selfless act: How can you be there to support your loved one if you are too sick to care for them?
The first step to navigating self care for caregivers is to understand the reasons you are uncomfortable with it, and addressing these reasons so you can move forward.
Self care for caregivers: Tips for reducing stress and practicing mindfulness
Self care doesn’t mean pushing away others’ needs for your own.
Instead, it means you are focusing on your basic needs and responding to them so you are receiving proper care, too.
Your basic needs include a healthy diet, quality sleep, social activity, hobbies, exercise, and any other stress-relieving activities you enjoy.
If it seems impossible to fit these needs and activities into your life, start small. Plan small meals and nourishing snacks. Set reminders for when to go to sleep and wake up. Take a short walk each afternoon.
Gradually, these small activities can find space for routine in your daily life.
Other self-care tips for caregivers include:
- Connect with friends and loved ones
- Join caregiver support groups
- List out your limits and specific areas you need help from others
- Set sleep and exercise goals
- Attend regular doctor visits to monitor health
- Schedule days off
- Reward yourself
Caregiving should be a team effort.
Even if you ask family and friends for help with small tasks such as picking up groceries or scheduling weekly video chats to cheer up your loved one, every little bit helps.
What if caregiving becomes too much?
Despite your best efforts, sometimes caregiving becomes too much.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are progressive, meaning the symptoms worsen over time.
Part of your caregiver journey should include creating a care plan for your loved one, so as their care needs change, you can properly address them.
This might include hiring in-home health aides, or eventually moving your loved one to a community with specialized memory care.
The Kensington Reston: Loving Support for Residents and Caregivers
The Kensington Promise, to love and care for your family as we do our own, is at the root of everything we do.
Our dreams of a community where residents would wake up each day happy and thriving is now our reality.
A large part of this community promise is welcoming and caring for families, too.
Through our frequent caregiver support events and Kensington Konnect, we are able to provide numerous resources to uplift caregivers. We encourage them to keep up their energy and show them how to reduce stressors.
If you are a caregiver, you are not alone. The Kensington Reston has a wide range of classes, book suggestions, podcasts, music, and much more to offer connection, relief, and support.
If you choose to allow us the honor of caring for a loved one, we offer a safe, loving space for them to truly “age in place” and thrive. No matter how their care needs change over time, they have a home with us.
- On-site rehabilitation services, including speech and occupational therapy
- Gourmet dining with flavorful, nutritious meals for a range of dietary needs
- A full life enrichment calendar of activities
- High acuity care for residents who need the highest levels of care and support
If you’d like to connect with our amazing team and hear more about our resident services and caregiver support network, reach out to us today.
We are here to support and encourage you as you navigate these challenging life changes.