May 4, 2009 -- Question: How do I convince myself that I am not a bad person for getting assistance for my loved one with Alzheimer's disease?
Answer: It's often very, very difficult for caregivers to believe that they're not being selfish if they get some help, say from adult day care or respite or from having a visiting nurse come into the home. That's because many times caregivers will have made promises, what I like to call the "must"erbations of caregiving: "I should be able to do this myself." "I promised them that I would never put them in a nursing home." "I need to be doing this myself." "I can't afford to get any sort of help."
These are the kinds of things that prevent much needed help and can lead to mental exhaustion, physical health problems among caregivers.
Caregiving is risky business. It's sustained stress for many people. It can be very, very pleasurable. But it also can be something that everyone is not well suited to.
And we all need a little break now and then, even if it's to go shopping or to go participate in our bowling league. So as providers and clinicians, we need to make sure that people who are caregiving for those with dementia have our permission and to reinforce this: First of all, take care of yourself because if you don't, you won't be able to take care of your loved one.