If you are a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, then you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t, the care to this person will suffer and so will you. There is a lot of stress that goes along with this job and if you aren’t careful, you could experience caregiver stress. Ignoring these signs could put your own health and mental health at risk.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Some of the symptoms of caregiver stress, according to the Alzheimer’s Association are denial. When people are in denial, they reason with themselves or others that there is nothing wrong with the person they are caring for. They try to convince themselves that the person does not have Alzheimer’s.
Sometimes caregivers become angry with the person with Alzheimer’s and they may have anger towards other people. This anger is often directed because there is no cure for this disease or they feel that no one understands what they are going through.
When the caregiver becomes stressed, they don’t want to go out with others. They feel like they have to stay home and take care of the person with Alzheimer’s. Caregivers often withdraw from activities that they once enjoyed.
Like the people they are caring for, the caregiver may suffer from anxiety. They wonder and worry about tomorrow and the future. Will things change, can they get any worse, can I provide for this person, and am I a good caregiver?
Anxiety often leads to depression. This depression often breaks the toughest of people. As a caregiver, you get to the point where you just don’t care anymore and it is hard to cope through the day.
After anxiety, comes the exhaustion. When this happens, the caregiver has a very hard time in completing everyday tasks. They become too tired to do anything.
Sleeplessness usually follows. You are constantly listening to every sound in the house, worried that the person with Alzheimer’s may wander out of your home and get lost. If you do hear them get up, you worry about whether they might fall and hurt themselves. You are constantly on the alert afraid to sleep in case something happens.
Irritability comes soon after this stage. The caregiver will show signs of moodiness and they often want people to leave them alone.
Lack of concentration is a lot like exhaustion, but is more extreme. The caregiver seems to find it hard to perform familiar. They forget appointments, or picking their kids up from school, or taking them to a school function.
When all these things happen, the caregiver begins to feel sick, as their health starts to decline. They can’t remember a time when they felt good.
Avoiding Caregiver Stress
If you are a caregiver and you notice any of these signs, don’t put it off thinking that things will get better. There are some things you can do that helps ward off this stress.
Go out with friends. I’m not saying to leave the person you are caring for at home alone. Check around your community and see if there are any adult day programs or in-home assistance. Some communities have a nurse that will come by the home so you can get away for a while and even the smaller towns have a meal delivery available. The food is healthy and it doesn’t cost much.
Let others share in the responsibility as caregiver. When family members or friends you trust offer to help, take them up on it. You can also call the Alzheimer’s association helpline at 1-800-272-3900. This number is toll-free and someone will answer your call 24-7. Check around the community to see if there are any support groups for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Where you can find others who are going through some of the things you are facing and they have similar feelings like you do.
Take care of yourself by eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Realize that the needs of the Alzheimer’s patient will change and become more demanding. Talk to your doctor about residential care services in your area.
Alzheimer’s Association: Caregiver Stress
Alzheimer’s Association: Brochure Caregivers