Fulfilling and adapting to the changing needs of the person with Alzheimer’s and dealing with unfamiliar behavior and practical matters take a physical and emotional toll on caregivers. If these pressures are not periodically relieved, caregivers may experience exhaustion, illness, and depression.

Warning Signs

Caregivers deserve to give themselves credit for doing the best they can in very trying circumstances. To address the negative effects of stress, caregivers first need to recognize the signs, including:

  • Feeling of denial, depression, irritability, anger, and anxiety
  • Physical signs such as trouble sleeping, exhaustion, and health problems

Reducing Stress

Some ways to reduce stress include:

  • Take time out to relax.
  • Engage in an enjoyable pastime.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Keep a list of tasks.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Maintain a sense of humor.
  • Eat right.
  • Exercise.
  • Get proper rest.

For many caregivers, the more they learn about Alzheimer’s disease, the better they can cope. They can:

  • Learn to recognize the things that can be changed and accept those that cannot
  • Identify sources of help
  • Let go of unrealistic expectations
  • Adapt to their loved one’s changing needs
  • Understand that a positive attitude can change a bad day into a better one

Supporting Caregivers

If you’re a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may greatly benefit from participating in support groups, some of which meet physically on a regular basis and others that interact virtually on the internet. Both offer advice, information, resources and comfort. People in support groups have a common understanding of the issues facing caregivers in similar situations. Many members become like family or close friends as they discuss common problems, coping strategies, and caring for themselves as well as the Alzheimer’s patient.

It’s especially important to get encouragement and help from family and friends. You may appreciate getting together with other caregivers to discuss feelings and may seek offers to help with various tasks. As much as possible, family members should support one another, offer assistance and respite to the primary caregiver, and stay up-to-date on the physical and emotional condition of the person with Alzheimer’s.

You may find caregiver training, support groups, and, in some cases, professional counseling to be very helpful.

Resources for Caregivers

Many resources are available to those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. These organizations and websites offer a wide variety of advice on:

  • Health, financial, and legal matters
  • Senior services and housing
  • Caregiving strategies and tips
  • Support and assistance for the caregiver

Many websites have databases to help find local services. See our list of Helpful Resources for contact information to organizations that offer caregiving support.

Citation

http://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/being-caregiver

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