Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health and Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss by Leeza Gibbons, James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW


It’s a simple concept that we all hear when we fly: take care of yourself before you take care of someone flying with you. If you don’t put on your mask before you attend to your companion’s, you won’t be able to help anyone else.

Leeza Gibbons’ book applies that advice to caregivers. It’s a hard thing to learn, and a hard thing to bear, but if you don’t care for yourself, then you’ll be worthless to help anyone else. This is NOT the time to take care of everyone else while you are tired or ailing. Nor is it the time to be so proud that you won’t ask for help. Caring for a loved one, whether in their home, your home, or elsewhere is an enormous undertaking.

Even if you’ve decided that your loved one will be most likely to thrive in an assisted living facility or with hired caregivers in her home, you are still the primary caregiver. YOU are the one who is called when there’s an issue, big or small. YOU are the person who will most likely be visiting, checking on, and generally supplying both TLC and clothes or other necessities.

While sharing her experiences caring for her mother, Leeza Gibbons tells about the lessons she learned about caring for a person with dementia. She combines her experiences with the expertise of psychologist James Huysman and physician Rosemary DeAngelis Laird with suggestions for caring for your body, mind, and spirit.

Topics include exercise, avoiding physical injury and strengthening the muscles you’ll most often be using. You’ll also learn about the importance of good nutrition, as well as how to keep your brain fitness. Insomnia is a big problem for caregivers at one time or another; the authors explain causes and offer techniques for getting enough sleep.

Caregivers are often plagued by depression, anxiety, anger, denial, and guilt. Sometimes depression may be hard to recognize. Learn how to care for your own mental health.

When a loved one has a dementia, it affects the entire family. It’s a difficult time, but also a time to connect with each other, including the ill loved one. Creating scrapbooks, journals, and other tools provides an opportunity for you and your loved one to remember happy times and share them.

There’s a bonus section at the end of Take Your Oxygen First that gives tips for “Special Caregiving Situations,” including old or young caregivers, siblings, fathers and sons, African-American and Hispanic caregivers, and gay and lesbian caregivers.

1 comment:

J. L. Keller said...

Thank you Donna for your recommendations. I deal with dementia in my family and these materials are so helpful. Please keep your recommendations coming. Thank you again. J. Keller