Give Yourself Five: 5 Sanity-Savers for Caregivers


While being a caregiver for an elderly loved one can be deeply rewarding, it can also be extremely stressful. During those moments when your nerves are frayed and your patience is wearing thin, there are some helpful techniques you can use to remove yourself from the situation and calm down. Sidestep letting strong feelings get the best of you by remembering to "give yourself five" when you're steaming. What's great about this little mantra is that it can take so many different forms:

1. You could take five (literal) steps back from the situation if your loved one with dementia has become belligerent.

2. Count to five before you answer if you're stuck in a cycle of repeated questions or comments.

3. Take five whole minutes to yourself (set a timer!) if you're just worn out. While you relax, put on a surefire calming television program or hand the person with dementia a favorite snack and leave the room (if you're sure he or she will be safe).

4. When you can't escape physically, imagine five nice things you'd do for yourself if you could. Sometimes just picturing a spa day or a chocolate cake in vivid detail is a tiny bit like experiencing the real thing.

5. Take five deep breaths: Inhale deeply through the nose, hold it for a count of five, then it let it out slowly through the mouth. Repeat five times. Nobody will notice you're stepping back from the edge of a cliff as you breathe.


3 months ago, said...

Take 5 steps back when you are in a difficult situation.. Will do this one I promise.


over 2 years ago, said...

Leaving the room and deep breaths help.


about 3 years ago, said...

I learned to 'step back' long ago having crafted some similar diversionary tactics tailored specifically for my husband's behavior at the time. I had forgotten my Yoga breathing techniques and appreciate reading see gorilla guard's description. Thank you, gg!


over 3 years ago, said...

These are great ideas. The breathing exercise is similar to the 4-7-8 deep breathing yoga exercise which I do on a regular basis. Four seconds in through the nose, hold for seven seconds and take eight seconds to exhale through the mouth. Also, the "Serenity Prayer" is not only good for AA. God please grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


about 5 years ago, said...

This may sound corny, but i give it to God then. I say, "Here, i'm overwhelmed and can't deal with this woman anymore today. You deal with her awhile." I suddenly find then, i become calmer, as i have 'let it go' to the higher power to deal with. Interestingly, i also find that new solutions start popping into my head. Give it a try! Even if you're not a 'believer' what have you got to lose?


about 5 years ago, said...

Very good advice. I just hope I remember them at the time I need too. I just love your web site. God bless.


over 5 years ago, said...

this arrived at just the perfect time. The last several weeks have been very stressful. Thank you, God bless you!!!!!!!


over 5 years ago, said...

I like the quick and practical solutions to just catch your breath in tme to refocus and keep things positive with your loved one no matter how they are acting.