Caregivers will suffer stress

It can be overwhelming to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer's or other dementia, but too much stress can be harmful to both of you.

 

Read on to learn symptoms of stress and ways to avoid burnout.

 

Symptoms of caregiver stress include:

  • Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed.
    I know Mom is going to get better.

  • Anger at the person with Alzheimer's, anger that no cure exists or anger that people don't understand what's happening.
    If he asks me that one more time I'll scream!

  • Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure.
    I don't care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.

  • Anxiety about the future.
    What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?

  • Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope.
    I don't care anymore.

  • Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks.
    I'm too tired for this.

  • Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns.
    What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?

  • Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions.
    Leave me alone!

  • Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks.
    I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment.

  • Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll.
    I can't remember the last time I felt good.

If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

 

Tips to manage stress

 

Know what resources are available

Adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and meal delivery are just some of the services that can help you manage daily tasks. Call Australia's Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 or the National Dementia helpline on 1800 100 500.

 

Get help

Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted. Seek the support of family, friends and caregivers going through similiar experiences. Tell others exactly what they can do to help.

 

Use relaxation techniques

There are several simple relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress. Try more than one to find which works best for you. Techniques include:

  • Visualization (mentally picturing a place or situation that is peaceful and calm)

  • Meditation (which can be as simple as dedicating 15 minutes a day to letting go of all stressful thoughts)

  • Breathing exercises (slowing your breathing and focusing on taking deep breaths)

  • Progressive muscle relaxation (tightening and then relaxing each muscle group, starting at one end of your body and working your way to the other end)

    Learn more about relaxation techniques on the Mayo Clinic website.

Get moving

Physical activity — in any form — can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help. Take a walk. Do an activity you love, such as gardening or dancing.

 

Make time for yourself

As a caregiver, it's hard to find time for yourself, but staying connected to friends, family and activities that you love is important for your well-being. Even if it's only 30 minutes a week, carve out a pocket of time just for yourself.

 

Become an educated caregiver

As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary. The Alzheimer's Australia offers information to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer's.

 

Take care of yourself

Visit your doctor regularly. Watch your diet, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you stay healthy will help you be a better caregiver.

 

More support is available from Alzheimer's Australia at https://fightdementia.org.au/

 

(Article courtecy of Alzheimer's Association USA.)

 

6 January 2016.