Being a caregiver for a loved one is a challenging and emotionally draining journey. As you dedicate yourself to providing care and support, it’s essential not to lose sight of your own identity and the roles you hold outside of caregiving.
Providing care for someone, particularly individuals with dementia, can not only profoundly change the person you once knew but also have a significant impact on your own sense of identity. We understand that familial caregivers often experience a loss that extends beyond just the individual—they lose both the person they once knew and the role they held.
Always remember that caring for others doesn’t have to result in losing yourself along the way.
Maintain your identity while fulfilling your caregiving duties with these helpful ideas:
1️⃣ Reminiscing through Photos:
Pictures have a tendency to bring back memories and emotions to the present moment. Set aside time to go through old photo albums or digital collections together. Revisit cherished moments and share the stories behind those pictures. This act of reminiscing not only helps reconnect you with the past, but it also allows you to maintain your role as a daughter, spouse, son, or friend.
2️⃣ Listen to Music of the Past:
Listing to songs you or your loved one listened to in the past can evoke nostalgia, bringing back memories and emotions associated with specific songs or periods in your life. Old tunes can bring not only bring comfort and relaxation, it has a tendency to serve as a form of therapy and escapism bringing you back to happier times. Take the time to listen to the music that holds significance for both of you. Create playlists featuring songs that were meaningful in their life or songs you enjoyed together. Engaging in this shared experience can strengthen your bond and provide moments of joy and and serve as a reminder of your own identity.
3️⃣ Play Games and Activities:
Playing games from the past can be a wonderful way to engage with your loved one. Consider playing games they enjoyed during their childhood or your shared memories. Even something as uncomplicated as Candyland or Go Fish can bring a sense of familiarity and playfulness to your day. These activities not only stimulate their mind but also remind you of your original role as a companion.
4️⃣ Seek Support:
It’s important to recognize that you can’t do caregiving all alone. Reach out to family members, friends, or support groups who can lend a helping hand. Sharing the caregiving responsibilities can give you some much-needed respite and allow you to step back into your original roles periodically. We can help! See the list of services we offer.
5️⃣ Prioritize Self-Care:
As a caregiver, it can be overwhelming to witness the changes in your loved one’s mood, emotions, mental state and physicality. But don’t forget it’s important to prioritize your own well-being and remember that your identity matters too. Be intentional and dedicate time to activities that bring you joy and help you recharge. Engaging in hobbies, exercising, meditation or spending time in nature can be beneficial. Taking care of yourself not only helps preserve your identity but also enables you to be a better caregiver.
Embracing your own needs and passions doesn’t detract from your caregiving role; it strengthens it. Remember, you are more than just a caregiver—you are a spouse, a partner, a daughter, a son, a best friend, and you deserve moments of joy and connecting with who you are along the way.