Caregiver Question | 10/06/22

“Losing myself while I’m caring for my husband.”

DEAR CARALLEL: I’m 68 years old and five years into caring for my husband who is living with Alzheimer’s Disease. He still talks, walks, and has frequent moments of clarity which are beautiful. But caring for him is getting more and more difficult by the week as his disease progresses. I feel like I’m losing myself while caring for him. I’ve been told to create boundaries but that seems impossible. Help! – Patti in Greensboro, NC 

DEAR PATTI: The people who’ve recommended that you create boundaries are right–doing so will help you. That being said, I relate to how you’re feeling because setting boundaries while caregiving is difficult! I struggled with the same challenge when I was caring for my mother who was also living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Boundaries” seem intimidating and difficult to establish so you might try re-framing this and thinking about what it will take for you to create a little space between yourself and your caregiving responsibilities.

For me, that meant:

1. Believing that I was doing the best I could caring for Mom
2. Believing that my needs were equally important to hers
3. Getting comfortable saying ‘No’ without feeling guilty

It didn’t happen overnight because numbers 1 and 2 took me a while, but once I had that belief, saying ‘No’ began to seem possible. From that point on, I got more and more comfortable with saying ‘No’ each time I said it.

Before long, I had some built-in boundaries that gave me a little space for rest, seeing friends, or reconnecting with my interests.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

–Stephanie, Carallel Care Advocate 

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