Advice for Caregivers of People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Advice for Caregivers of People with Alzheimer’s Disease

We at Meth-Wick know there are many family members and friends who provide care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  This information, originally published by LeadingAge is a great resource in managing caregiver stress.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2012, 15.4 million family members and friends provide 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the following are the top 10 signs of caregiver stress:

  1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed: “I know Mom is going to get better.”
  2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s, anger that no cure exists or anger that people don’t understand what’s happening: “If he asks me that one more time I’ll scream!”
  3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure: “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”
  4. Anxiety about the future: “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”
  5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope: “I don’t care anymore.”
  6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks: “I’m too tired for this.”
  7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns: “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”
  8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions: “Leave me alone!”
  9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks: “I was so busy; I forgot we had an appointment.”
  10. Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll: “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”

Tips to manage the stress are:

  • Know what resources are available: Senior living communities, assisted living communities and memory-support communities are just some of the services that can help you manage daily tasks.
  • Get help: Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted. Seek the support of family, friends and caregivers going through similar experiences. Tell others exactly what they can do to help. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900) and use as a resource for support and guidance.
  • Use relaxation techniques: There are several simple relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress. Try more than one to find which works best for you. Techniques include:
    1. Visualization (mentally picturing a place or situation that is peaceful and calm).
    2. Meditation (which can be as simple as dedicating 15 minutes a day to letting go of all stressful thoughts).
    3. Breathing exercises (slowing your breathing and focusing on taking deep breaths).
    4. Progressive muscle relaxation (tightening and then relaxing each muscle group, starting at one end of your body and working your way to the other end).

Learn more about relaxation techniques from the Mayo Clinic. And of course, if anyone should experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

Portions of this article written by Mindy Creek, Vice President of Management Services at Greystone

LeadingAge Published Jan 16, 2014 – LeadingAge