Have you lost your temper recently? Must mean . . . you're human. A caregiver's occasional short fuse is perfectly natural. The combination of stress, sleep deprivation, and having to continually find a "new normal" for coping with the effects of dementia can leave family members on edge. Some days, one small mishap -- or look, or word -- can put you over the edge.
Consider lost temper to be a nudge to try to get more rest or help, then let it go. Nobody coping with dementia care is above "losing it" sometimes, even if the anger is directed toward the person with the disease.
Try these eight ways to channel your anger:
1. Designate a safe place where you can scream or punch. The privacy of your car? Your bathroom? Back porch? Pick a place you can go to let go.
2. Join a support group. Venting is a huge part of these groups' appeal for many caregivers.
3. Keep a journal. Say on paper what you dare not say aloud to your loved one. Or write thoughts on loose sheets of paper -- and then burn them.
4. Confide in a clergyperson, therapist, or other adviser. Schedule regular appointments; it can help to know you can "save up" your feelings to let them out at a designated time.
5. Call a friend who "gets" it. Running out of those? Connect with other caregivers online. Bonus: Someone's there 24/7.
6. Exercise. Take a walk, lift hand weights, follow an exercise video, do jumping jacks, or climb stairs. Exercise is excellent physical release for anger.
7. Listen to your favorite music, loud. Tune out everything else for a few minutes or hours.
8. Decide to set limits. Think about which things you're going to take or let pass, and which things are nonnegotiables. You do deserve to set boundaries, and reminding yourself of this can be calming.