Fulfilling and adapting to the changing needs of the person with Alzheimer's and dealing with unfamiliar behavior and practical matters take a physical and emotional toll on caregivers. If these pressures are not periodically relieved, caregivers may experience exhaustion, illness, and depression.
Caregivers deserve to give themselves credit for doing the best they can in very trying circumstances. To address the negative effects of stress, caregivers first need to recognize the signs, including:
- Feeling of denial, depression, irritability, anger, and anxiety
- Physical signs such as trouble sleeping, exhaustion, and health problems
Some ways to reduce stress include:
- Take time out to relax.
- Engage in an enjoyable pastime.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Keep a list of tasks.
- Write in a journal.
- Maintain a sense of humor.
- Eat right.
- Get proper rest.
For many caregivers, the more they learn about Alzheimer's disease, the better they can cope. They can:
- Learn to recognize the things that can be changed and accept those that cannot
- Identify sources of help
- Let go of unrealistic expectations
- Adapt to their loved one's changing needs
- Understand that a positive attitude can change a bad day into a better one
View or download Managing Stress: Caring for the Caregiver, a publication that provides tips to help you adapt to changes in the person you are caring for and develop new skills to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility.