A question recently came up in our Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Group, and We wanted to take the time to answer it for everyone that might have the same question now or in the future.
The Question was: Am I selfish for wanting some alone time?
Now before I get into the scientific research we did behind this topic, I wanted to speak from experience.
It is never ever selfish to want alone time! This can be true from caregiving for someone, to being in a relationship to someone, to being a parent of someone. Sometimes you just need time to yourself. Time to unwind and do your own thing. I will always hold that opinion so I wanted to make that clear before we got to the real Science behind why everyone needs alone time.
The Science of Needing Alone Time:
Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. said: “Constantly being ‘on’ doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself”. She goes on later to say “Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time”-Published in Psychology Today.
Spending time along can also prevent caregiver burnout. Would you or your caregiver take some time each day for themselves, or have yourself or them be burnt out and not function properly after a few months on the job? A good example of this can be found on an airplane of all places. One of the number one things flight attendants say is to put on your oxygen mask first and only after that, put on the oxygen mask of the person sitting next to you. If you fail to put on your mask first, you will probably pass out due to lack of air. Meaning that now both you and the person sitting next to you might not have an oxygen mask. This is Exactly like caregiving!
If you fail to keep up your own well being, you will eventually not be able to take care of your loved one/patient! In fact, there was a study that showed that if you are caregiving someone between the ages of 66-96 and dealing with emotional strain, are 63% more likely of dying. That’s Huge!
Other symptoms of not having enough alone time include:
- Poor Eating Habits
- Lack of Exercise
- Lack of Sleep
- Inability to look after oneself while sick
To combat this issue, try setting a good plan for yourself. Plan out some time each day where you can be alone without any interruptions. Read a book, watching something on tv, just sit and think. It’s very important that you take care of you! Your loved one battling with Alzheimer’s or dementia will have a very hard time of taking care of you. So please, start finding some time for yourself.
Sources: Caregiving as A Risk for Mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects