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Managing Caregiver Stress

Anyone who has assumed caregiving responsibilities will tell you that it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Caring for someone with a form of dementia can be stressful. Care needs increase and just when you’ve got down a routine there’s resistance to care, such as unwillingness to shower or take medication or change clothing. There can also be a sudden and unexpected change in their sleep pattern.

 Caregivers from time to time can feel trapped-they can’t flee or fight out of the caregiving situation and this takes a toll emotionally.  As such, it is not uncommon for caregivers to experience some of the following: 

  • Anxiety
  • Increased worry
  • Fear 
  • Preoccupation 
  • Irritability 
  • Distractibility
  • Tension
  • Loss of energy 
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite 

Caregivers can and should take action to minimize and manage the stress of caregiving.

 Here are healthy adaptive responses to consider:

 1. Talk and share your caregiving concerns- open up to others who will be supportive listeners-join a caregiver support group 

2.Become aware of how you are affected emotionally and where stress is located physically in your body ex: headaches, body aches or fatigue 

3.E very day takes a break from caregiving to restore. NO PLACE FOR GUILT. When you take care of yourself you will be more patience and effective caregiver 

4. Be willing to explore and accept help from others 

5. Be mindful to expect the unexpected

 6. Become informed of support options such as a daycare program, respite care, home care 

7. Don’t allow others to manipulate or shame you with the decisions you make- THERE IS NO RIGHT DECISION-JUST THE BEST DECISION

 8. Learn and accept what you can take off your plate ex: have prepared meals delivered, supermarket home deliveries, hire a money manager to assist you with paying bills, treat yourself to a cleaning service

 9. Try non-medical approaches to stress reduction such as: 

  • Activities away from caregiving
  • Socializing 
  • Calming activities such as yoga and meditation 
  • Being close to nature 
  • Creative and spiritual activities 
  • Pleasurable activities with the person you are caring for
  • Breathe and pause A LOT 

Do not hesitate to consult with your physician if your stress levels remain too high. 

You are not alone. If you need dementia care guidance, connections to programs, services, facilities, and referrals to vetted professionals contact me 

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