Being a caregiver to an ailing loved one is a difficult task that often causes stress and leads to burnout. It’s important to recognize the signs. Keep reading for more useful information on managing stress as a caregiver for an individual afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
Signs Caregiving is Taking a Toll
Below is a list of feelings you may encounter as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s. These feelings and stresses are common occurrences. Don’t beat yourself up or spend too much time feeling guilty for allowing stress to affect you. Be sure to seek out the help you need during difficult periods.
- Being in denial about the severity of the illness and how it impacts your loved one. For instance, “Dad will get better soon.”
- Becoming upset or frustrated with someone with dementia because the person is no longer capable of many basic tasks. “She can feed herself. She just doesn’t want to.”
- Becoming socially withdrawn from family and friends and neglecting activities that you used to enjoy. “I don’t find the pottery club satisfying anymore.”
- Feeling anxious about what might happen down the road or at the prospect of dealing with another day of the same strain. “If she eventually needs more help than I can give, what will I do?”
- Feelings of depression that wear you down and interfere your ability to emotionally deal with the situation. “I’ve just stopped caring.”
- Feeling so exhausted that everyday tasks become an insurmountable burden. “I don’t have the time or energy to deal with this.”
- Struggling to fall asleep at night because there’s too much to worry about. “What if he tries to cook and catches the house on fire?”
- Irritability borne of stress that causes you to react negatively or angrily. “Just be quiet! I have enough to deal with without your problems!”
- An inability to focus makes it hard to complete even routine tasks. “I was so busy that I just forgot.”
- The stress starts to hinder you both physically and mentally. “I don’t even remember what it’s like to feel decent.”
Ten Tips for Reducing The Stress and Protecting Your Health
It’s alarmingly common for caregivers to become so involved in caring for an ailing loved one that they fail to address their own emotional, psychological, and physical welfare. If you’ve been putting your own needs behind everyone else’s, you could be risking your health.
- Make time for you by considering respite care. This will allow you spend time doing the things you enjoy, resting or taking care of other obligations. The goal of respite care is to provide caregivers with a much-needed break while ensuring that their loved one is still safe and properly cared for.
- Find out what resources are available in your area. These may be in-home assistance, adult daycare, meal delivery and companionship services, all of which can take some of the burden off your shoulders.
- Educate yourself. As the ailment advances, you’ll require new skills to deal with it. Some places offer programs that can help you learn to cope with and understand the various symptoms complications that can develop.
- Seek the support and assistance of friends, family and others who understand your situation. If things become too stressful, counseling is strongly recommended.
- Don’t neglect your own needs. Do what you can to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. By ensuring your own health and well-being, you’re in a better position to care for someone else.
- Take steps to control stress. Stress can cause a wide array of issues like decreased appetite, sleeplessness, digestive problems, hypertension, headaches, fatigue and irritability. If necessary, discuss your symptoms with your doctor and learn about different ways to relax.
- Accept any changes as they come. Dementia patients’ symptoms and needs change gradually. At some point, you may no longer be able to give them as much care as they require. It’s important to know what resources are available in your community, like residential or in-home care, and to enlist the aid of people around you. Doing this will make the changes easier to manage.
- Have financial and legal plans in place. In the early stages of the disease, your loved one can participate in these. Having such plans in place can also offer some security to the whole family. With many of these documents, a lawyer’s help isn’t necessary. However, if you’re uncertain about how these documents should be prepared, the expertise of a lawyer or financial adviser specializing in long-term care plans or elder law should be sought.
- Understand that your care is invaluable and that you’re giving it your best effort. Many people feel bad because they can’t do everything, but the needs of dementia patients change with time. While you can’t guarantee how care will be provided, you can guarantee that your loved one is safe and properly cared for.
- Keep regular doctor’s appointments. Getting routine checkups and paying attention to your body’s signals is essential. Make note of stress, insomnia, fatigue, reduced appetite, or behavioral changes. Failing to address your symptoms can lead to poor mental and physical health.
Contact Us To Learn More
Caring Hands Matter can have one of our professional staff visit your family member in their home after you contact us. This helps us find out how much and what kind of care your loved one requires. You pay nothing for this visit, and our staff are very flexible. We’ll work closely with you to determine the best care schedule. Please contact us today to find out how our reliable home care services can help.