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Alzheimer’s Insights: How to fight caregiver stress

Scott Finley

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month®, and while we take steps to exercise and take care of our brains, we shouldn’t neglect the fact that caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia need some recognition too.

Being a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs you could ever imagine.  In late stage Alzheimer’s, you are on duty pretty much 24/7.  In fact, from the moment a caregiver begins service to a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, their life changes forever.

How do you know when a caregiver needs help?  There are ten basic symptoms of caregiver stress.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Social withdrawal
  4. Anxiety
  5. Depression
  6. Exhaustion
  7. Sleeplessness
  8. Irritability
  9. Lack of Concentration
  10. Health Problems

Fortunately, there are some things you can do about it.   Physical activity is big – take a walk, get some exercise.  Whatever it takes to get you moving.

Stay connected to family and friends.  Join an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver’s group.  There’s probably one close by, and in our online world, it’s as close as your computer.

Don’t try and do it all yourself.  Ask for help and support.

Learn new relaxation techniques.   Take time to do something that relaxes you and takes you out of the moment for a bit.

Access resources.  This goes back to number two and three above.  The Alzheimer’s Association has plenty of resources to help you, just for the asking.

Attend a support group.  You can find one here:  www.alz.org/help-support/community/support-groups

All of these things have one common denominator – taking care of yourself.

There are almost a million and a half caregivers in Texas, almost all of them unpaid.  If you are one of that number or know someone in that role, take some time for yourself.

And just a reminder – you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 emergency preparedness guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org