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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Signs of caregiver stress and how to manage

If you’re involved in the care of someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you may find yourself in the most difficult role you’ve ever played.

Becoming a caregiver is challenging. But when the illness causes a progressive decline in behavior, function and ability to understand, stress levels can rise until they’re unhealthy.

What is caregiver stress?

Taking care of someone with cognitive illness results in additional stressors. It’s hard watching someone you love lose the simplest of abilities. They may struggle with daily tasks such as getting dressed or eating and one day may no longer recognize who you are.

Your relationship may quickly evolve from one of spouse or child to a full-time caregiver. And unfortunately, the rest of life doesn’t get put on hold. You’ll find yourself left to juggle everything else along with your loved one’s needs.

Signs of caregiver stress

Because of the behavioral changes caused by Alzheimer’s, the responsibilities of caregiving can be overwhelming. The risk increases that you may lose touch with yourself and the outside world, overlooking the toll that stress is beginning to take.

The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 signs of caregiver stress to look out for:

1. Denial

This can be experienced as denying the seriousness of the disease, its effect on the person and family, and the prognosis.

2. Anger

You may begin feeling anger toward the person diagnosed or frustrated that they can no longer do what they used to. You may also feel they aren’t trying or are just being stubborn.

3. Social Withdrawal

You may begin to turn down invitations from friends or no longer spend time taking part in activities you once enjoyed.

4. Anxiety

You may feel increasing anxiety about the future and become preoccupied with what you’ll do when you can no longer provide proper care.

5. Depression

There may be times when you feel as if you’re unable to cope. These are often accompanied by feelings that you no longer care anymore about anything.

6. Exhaustion

Especially if you aren’t able to take a break, you may feel worn out and so tired that you can hardly find the energy to take care of daily tasks.

7. Sleeplessness

You may also find yourself too exhausted to get a good night’s sleep. Caregivers often worry that something might happen while they are sleeping.

8. Irritability

As you become more tired and overwhelmed, combined with the anxiety of what the future might bring, it’s common to feel irritable and want to be left alone.

9. Lack of concentration

You may find it hard to concentrate long enough to perform even familiar tasks. Or you might find yourself forgetting appointments you’ve made.

10. Health problems

All of the above can eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health. After a while, caregivers often can’t recall the last time they felt good.

How to manage your stress

Caregivers often believe there’s no time to spend on themselves, including eating healthy or exercising. But stress will eventually catch up to you if you don’t. It’s important to recognize that only by caring for yourself will you be able to care for your loved one.

Watching over someone living with Alzheimer’s is too difficult to do alone. And you don’t need to. Please reach out for help and consider these suggestions for support:

Know what community resources are available

Depending on your area, there may be adult day programs, in-home assistance and meal delivery. The Alzheimer’s Association has an online Community Resource Finder or contact your local chapter to find what services might be available.

Find support

When people offer to help, let them. Keep a list of activities others could handle, such as sitting with the person while you go to a doctor’s appointment, taking your loved one for a walk, grocery shopping or even making a meal. The Alzheimer’s Association has an online Care Team Calendar page to help you organize this support.

Use relaxation techniques

Try these techniques to find a peaceful moment each day:

  • Visualize a pleasant place or feeling
  • Meditate 15 minutes a day
  • Slow your breathing and focus your thoughts
  • Try muscle relaxation exercises
  • Get moving. Take a walk, work in the garden or put on some music and dance

Become an educated caregiver

Learn what you can to help yourself navigate the Alzheimer’s journey:

  • Understand how to respond to changing behaviors
  • Take care of yourself. See a doctor regularly, eat well, exercise and get some rest
  • Make legal and financial plans so you can remove this worry from your list
  • Schedule respite care. Take a break and know your loved one will be well cared for

Be realistic about what you’re up against

Be kind to yourself. You are only one person and you can’t accomplish everything. Be flexible but don’t hesitate to say no to requests that you can’t take on, including hosting the holiday meal this year. Your plate is full.

Reach out to others familiar with Alzheimer’s

Joining a support group can provide encouragement and comfort where you can learn what others have tried, what worked and what didn’t. Lifelong friendships often form from this communal compassionate experience.

For many, the day will come when you won’t be able to provide the level and kind of care that your loved one deserves. The progressive nature of Alzheimer’s causes a decline that can be too difficult to handle at home.

Know that there are Memory Care communities that are specially trained to support your loved one and your family. They provide a loving home environment that can respond to the needs a cognitive illness frequently requires. It may not be an easy decision but it often is the right one to make.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

We understand the challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and the stress that a caregiver can experience. It’s even more difficult if you feel that you are alone. Please know that you are not.

Our highly trained and compassionate staff is here to provide the care our residents deserve and the encouragement the families need as well. Together, we can ensure that your loved one is supported to live the highest quality and engaged life possible.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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