By David W. Hart, Ph.D.

Contributing writer

I recently met a woman at one of my caregiver support groups who is, along with her sister, caring for their aging mother. Mom is living with Alzheimer’s type dementia and over the past several years, her behavior has become more combative, agitated, and indignant – all traits that the sisters have had a difficult time managing.

Behaviorally, mom is reticent to follow directions and the once confident parts of her personality have morphed into acute stubbornness. The sisters were exhausted and befuddled – looking for a cool drink of water in the caregiver desert.

David W. Hart, Ph.D.

The support group, in their endless wisdom gleaned from lived experience, offered several possible solutions to the problems presented but focused primarily on the topic of self-care as a method for reducing the sisters’ unyielding stress.

After our conversation, I began to wonder more about self-care, what it is, how it’s beneficial, and how to avoid some potential pitfalls. I thought I’d share my findings with you.

Self-care is an intentional choice to replenish your dwindling physical and emotional reserves rather than deny or avoid the fact that you may be slipping into apathy, withdrawal, or hopelessness.

So then, how does one begin to conceptualize self-care? You might think of it in terms of the healthcare trinity – mind, body, spirit – and add social and emotional health into the mix as well.

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