Caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease can be very rewarding AND very stressful.
– Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN
11 million Americans are caring for a family member or friend living with Alzheimer’s disease and nearly 60% report feeling more emotional or physical stress from being a caregiver.
This stress can take its toll and increase your risk for health problems from a weaker immune system, high blood pressure or heart disease, poor sleep, and impact your own memory and thinking.
Caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease can be very rewarding AND very stressful. On the positive side, you may feel a sense of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.
But on the negative side, you may feel tired, discouraged, angry, sad, guilty, ambivalent, and even grief. These feelings may be overwhelming and almost constant. This is known as “caregiver stress”.
Do you know the warning signs of caregiver stress and burnout?
Stay tuned for today’s episode to learn the 10 Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️ The 3 kinds of caregiver stress: role strain, personal strain, and worrying about whether or not you are doing the right things.
One of the most difficult things about being a caregiver is that you may feel isolated or cut off from the outside world.
✔️ Warning signs that you may need to seek more outside support.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you feel so sad and depressed, so much so that you can’t get through your day?
2. Do you lie awake at night worrying?
3. Are you losing weight?
4. Do you feel isolated and alone with your problem?
5. Are you drinking too much?
6. Are you taking pills to get through your day?
7. Are you drinking too much coffee?
8. Are you screaming and crying too much?
9. Are you having thoughts about hurting yourself or the person you are caring for?
10. Do you feel like you are out of control of your situation or at the end of your rope?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, coping with these feelings may require reaching out to family and friends for help; or you may need professional help.
✔️ The best thing you can do as a caregiver is to take care of yourself. One of the things I was taught in nursing school was that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.
1. Get Professional Help
Get professional help if your biggest challenges are with your own mental health or substance misuse/ abuse; or if you are having feelings of self-harm or hurting anyone else.
2. Create a Care Partner Team
Make a list of how other people could help you, then reach out to your family and friends and let them choose how they might be able to best help you.
3. Find Support Group
Other caregivers who are providing care to a person living with Alzheimer’s disease
They know what you’re dealing with
Can help you learn coping skills or teach you about caregiving.
Can cheer you on
Help you solve problems
May turn into new friends
4. Take care of your own health
Get enough sleep, eat well, take time to exercise; drink plenty of water
Create opportunities for your own “me time”
Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes a day
5. Look for Resources
If you are still working, look into the resources that your Employee Assistance Program may offer.
Look for caregiving services in your area. The national Eldercare Locator at https://eldercare.acl.gov and google “Area Agency on Aging” to find your local agency. These resources are available to help you learn more about services in your area.
You are not alone on your caregiving journey. I hope these questions to identify caregiver stress and the tips for how to manage it have been helpful.
If you have questions, or comments or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at email@example.com, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
More Resources About Memory And Alzheimer’s Disease …
This Is Getting Old has several other episodes about memory and Alzheimer’s. You can check them out below: