Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's

Taking Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself — physically and mentally — is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. This could mean asking family members and friends to help out, doing things you enjoy, or getting help from a home health care service. Taking these actions can bring you some relief. It also may help keep you from getting il l or depressed.

Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Here are some ways you can take care of yourself.

Asking for Help

Everyone needs help at times. However, many caregivers find it hard to ask for help. They may feel they should be able to do everything themselves, or that it's not all right to leave the person in their care with someone else. Or maybe they can’t afford to pay someone to watch the person for an hour or two.

Here are some tips about asking for help.

You may want to join a support group of Alzheimer’s disease caregivers. These groups meet in person or online to share experiences and tips and give each other support. Ask your doctor, check online, or contact the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Coping with Emotions and Stress

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s takes a lot of time and effort. Your job can become even harder when the person gets angry with you, hurts your feelings, or forgets who you are. Sometimes, you may feel discouraged, sad, lonely, frustrated, confused, or angry. These feelings are normal.

Here are some things you can say to yourself that might help you feel better.

Some caregivers find that going to a church, temple, or mosque helps them cope with the daily demands placed on them. For others, simply having a sense that larger forces are at work in the world helps them find a sense of balance and peace.

Getting Professional Help

Mental health professionals and social workers help you deal with any stress you may be feeling. They help you understand feelings, such as anger, sadness, or feeling out of control. They can also help you make plans for unexpected or sudden events.

Mental health professionals charge by the hour. Medicare, Medicaid, and some private health insurance plans may cover some of these costs. Ask your health insurance plan which mental health counselors and services it covers. Then check with your doctor, local family service agencies, and community mental health agencies for referrals to counselors.

More Tips for Self-Care

Here are other things to keep in mind as you take care of yourself.

For more information, see Getting Help with Caregiving. You can order a print copy of this booklet by calling 1-800-222-2225 or visiting www.nia.nih.gov/health.