Partners in Healthcare Cares for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease means facing unusual pressures and shouldering an enormous amount of responsibility. The job of a family caregiver can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. As the disease progresses, caregivers are called upon to adapt to constant change in both the patient and in the range of skills they need to care for him or her. Add to that the need for endless vigilance and 24-hour-a-day care, and it’s no wonder that the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients suffer a high level of stress. Severe stress sustained over a long period of time can take a major toll on both mental and physical wellbeing. If special steps are not taken to periodically relieve the pressures of caregiving, caregivers face a high risk of burnout and of suffering from a host of physical and emotional problems. The following are ten warning signs for caregivers that stress is taking an inordinate toll on their lives.
The Warning Signs of Stress
- Denial, or a sense that what is happening in one’s life simply can’t be faced.
- Anxiety and excessive worrying about the future.
- Depression, feeling hopeless or powerless about the situation.
- Irritability, “blowing up” over little things.
- Feeling angry at inappropriate times.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Withdrawal from other people and activities that used to bring enjoyment.
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Feeling chronically exhausted.
- Health problems.
Steps to Reduce Caregiver Stress
Reducing stress levels is vital for family caregivers in order to maintain health and wellbeing. The following are some steps that can help the Alzheimer’s caregiver reduce stress:
- Take time out to meditate or reflect. Take ten to twenty minutes twice a day to “clear your head” when you’re feeling overburdened. It’s important to slow down and focus on clearing your mind of all the racing thoughts that may be making you even more anxious than your caregiving duties.
- Try to do something you enjoy every day. Nurturing a garden, watching a favorite TV show, reading an article that interests you or engaging in a favorite hobby can help center you and remind you that you still have a life outside of caregiving.
- Do one thing at a time. Trying to juggle tasks like talking on the phone, opening the mail and cooking a meal all at the same time only adds to your stress level. Focus on one thing at a time, and when one task is completed, move on to the next one.
- Make lists of things that need to be done rather than trying to keep it all in your head and then worrying about what you might have forgotten.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the best-known techniques for reducing stress, revitalizing energy and maintaining your health. A brisk walk several times a week is all it takes to get the enormous health benefits of exercise.
- Don’t try to cope alone. Maintain friendships and family relationships even if all you have time for is a weekly phone call. Join a support group in which you can share experiences or talk with a counselor if needed. It is unrealistic to think that you can “go it alone” in your caregiving role, and sometimes just talking about your worries can help you sort them out.
- Take advantage of respite care. Quality home are agencies, like Partners in Healthcare, can provide respite care whenever you need to manage your own work/family life, take a break, go on vacation, or just have a day for yourself.
Whenever you need assistance caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, Partners in Healthcare of Orlando is on your side. Contact us to learn more about our Alzheimer’s home care services.