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Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia can be challenging, frustrating and overwhelming in normal times but during these unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are additional stressors for the individual and their caregiver.

Maintaining our normal routines have changed, and individuals who are caregivers need to create new ways to manage daily life. The stress has increased for the caregiver to care not only for themselves but for their care receiver.

While stress is a part of a caregiver’s everyday life, feeling extreme stress, frustration or depression can negatively affect your physical health. When you’re caring for others, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself, but it is very important that you do so to prevent frustration and burnout. Below are several ways for caregivers to take better care of themselves:

■ Make time for yourself. Allow yourself to take breaks from caregiving. Time outs for rest, socialization and fun. Don’t feel guilty about needing or wanting this time.

■ Take care of yourself. It is important to eat well, exercise, get a good night’s sleep and attend to your own personal and medical needs.

■ Seek outside support. Sharing your feelings with a support group, pastor or another caregiver in a similar situation can be a great way to release stress and get helpful advice from someone who is not as close to the situation as you are.

There is no denying the importance of caregiving and these acts of self-love. Life can wear us down and we need to refuel ourselves. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.

Building your community of care is so important. It involves receiving help from those around you: friends, family, neighbors, support groups and community programs — your “tribe.” Through your community of care, there’s less feelings of “I’m in this alone” and more of “we can do this together.”

Below are resources for the caregiver on dementia issues and issues related to COVID 19 that you may find helpful:

■ Aging and Disability Resource Center (Marinette County) is offering the following programs during the COVID 19 pandemic. For more information on how to register, contact the ADRC at 715-732-3850:

Telephone Support Group - With Teresa Clement (Dementia Care Specialist) in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. You may ask specific questions, share your concerns or just listen to others and capture information. In-Touch Senior Call — Provides a caring voice during this time of uncertainty and isolation.

■ Marinette County Elderly Services: 1-800-990-4242 or 715-854-7453

■ Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support: Contact June Ehlers, 715-582-3589 or 715-938-3589

■ The Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov

■ Wisconsin Department of Health Services: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/

■ Alzheimer’s Association has information for family caregivers as well as information on COVID-19: www.alz.org

The Dementia Friendly Community Coalition of Marinette County is a non-profit program to create a dementia-friendly community that is safe, respectful and welcoming for people living with dementia through awareness, education and community engagement. Additional resource information is available on the website www.DFCWI.com or on Facebook.

Marilynn Galineau is a DFC Coalition Board Member, a community volunteer, and the owner of Senior Life Management Services.