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Caregiver Stress

It is important that you recognize the symptoms of stress that are exhibited as a result of providing care to individuals with dementia. As the individual deteriorates, your levels of stress will most likely increase, with a corresponding increase in the number and severity of stress indicators. A description of some interventions that will increase your ability to deal with the day-to-day demands of caregiving follow.


Warning Signs
Here are some warning signs for caregiver burnout:

irritability, over- reacting to situations, loss of energy, fatigue, weight gain or loss, headaches, aching muscles, increased frequency of colds and infections, indigestion, ulcers, shortness of breath, problems making decisions, forgetfulness, problems staying organized, feeling overwhelmed, unhappiness, feeling helpless and hopeless, inability to relax, restlessness, tension, substance use and abuse.

Strategies for Managing Caregiver Stress

  • Strategies for the body
  • Strategies for the mind

The following table lists some suggestions for each factor.


Factor
Strategy
For the Body

Strategies that target your body include:

  • Incorporate relaxation into your daily routine (e.g., deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation).
  • Get regular physical exercise at least 2-3 times per week.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Try to get a full night's sleep as often as possible and take short naps during the day
  • Moderate your use of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
  • Take quiet time out for yourself each day
  • Take advantage of respite care, day care programs, or community supports;
  • Have regular medical checkups.


Factor
Strategy
For the Mind

Strategies that target your mind include:

  • Alter beliefs, assumptions and ineffective ways of thinking that increase your vulnerability to stress. Be aware of overly negative thinking.
  • Use thought-stopping techniques, disputing irrational beliefs and positive self-statements
  • Develop helpful ways to organize your time and activities
  • Gather information about your caregiving situation and your relative's health
  • Regularly attend social events
  • Have one or more friends to confide in about personal matters (social support is extremely important).
  • Have at least one family member or friend you can rely on for help.
  • Meet with a professional to learn effective coping strategies.
  • Join a caregiver support group (check with your local Alzheimer's Society or geriatric hospital)



 
 
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