Alzheimer’s Caregivers Must Make their Own Health a Priority

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Must Make their Own Health a Priority

Individuals caring for a precious one with Alzheimer’s must make their very own physical, psychological and emotional health a priority. It might seem counter-intuitive to the newly-minted caregiver, however a precious one’s health and well-being is closely attached to their caregiver’s own health and well-being.

You'll learn to manage the psychological and physical strain of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, and discover how not to be defined by your role as a dementia caregiver.

The Truth About Caregiver Stress and Burnout

As a caregiver for a precious one with Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety will (to varying levels ) be ever-present in your life. But that doesn’t mean that caregiver burnout is unavoidable.

Those that are currently suffering from stress have a 63 percent increase in their mortality rate, based on a 2003 study conducted by Ohio State University. If you feel overwhelmed and discover yourself experiencing a number of the symptoms of caregiver stress, then it might be time to re-evaluate your approach.

The Stress Management Strategy Every Alzheimer’s Caregiver Should Adopt

What if somebody told you there was something you might do, right now, that may slow down the decline of your cherished one with dementia by 37 percent? Researchers from Utah State University (USU) have unearthed a significant link between the stress-management plans of care providers and the mental functioning of the people they care for.

Caregivers who adopt a mainly approach to resolving common caregiving issues not only experience greater personal health, they're also able to provide better care for their family members with dementia.

She and her co-workers discovered that care providers who use healthy coping strategies might possibly slow down their cherished one’s psychological decline by just just as much as 37 percent. Existing research indicates that a close bond with a caregiver who's physically healthy and that will manage their stress levels might keep an individual with Alzheimer’s out of a nursing home.

When figuring out how to handle the distress brought on by dementia behaviors, the plans care providers can use typically fall into two classes: emotion-focused and problem-focused.

  • Emotion-focused coping techniques emphasize dealing with emotions of anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, etc., brought on by a sure source of anxiety. Strategies include ventilation, praying, distracting yourself from the stress and ignoring the stress.
     
  • Techniques emphasize dealing with the origin of the anxiety directly. Strategies include removing oneself from the presence of the stress, or seeking to understand and come up with a plan to tackle a situation.

For instance, if your cherished one becomes agitated and starts pacing around the home, a problem-focused strategy would begin with research into the possible causes of anxiety and restlessness in someone with dementia. You would then examine whether your loved one was recently exposed to any of these triggers. Your first priority should be to defuse the situation by either removing the cause of their agitation, or distracting them with another activity. After their anxiety has passed, you would then think of ways to avoid the anxiety-producing situation in the future.

The complex collection of challenges you’ll face whilst taking care of your precious one will require you to use both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping mechanisms.

Emotions of anger, sadness and guilt must be dealt with correctly; you can’t just stuff them down. At times, your situation will seem so difficult that the one thing you really need is a support team to listen to you vent.

The capacity to successfully meet caregiving's and prevent your emotions from boiling over may have a profound effect on the health and well-being of your cherished one. Here are four healthy ways to handle the trials of being a dementia caregiver

  • Obey caregiving’s rule: look after the caregiver. Put on your own oxygen mask . There are an infinite number of iterations of this all important advice. Given the romantic (and clinically significant)  connection between the well-being of the caregiver and the health of the care recipient, it’s a maxim that bears repeating. “shooting a problem-oriented approach to caregiving involves being aware of your own mental and bodily needs,” states Tschanz. Schedule ‘personal hours. ’ Ask for help from friends and family.
     
  • Go with the flow: Recognize that everyone has their good days and bad days. In case your cherished one exhibits several bad behaviors in a day, she suggests trying to comprehend what may be causing the abnormality. Maybe they didn’t have enough to eat for breakfast or their sleep was interrupted. Pinpointing these triggers can assist you to avoid similar situations in the future. Start maintaining a log that lists the things that appear to influence your precious one in ways that are both negative and positive. This way you’ll have something to refer to when new problems arise.
     
  • Educate yourself: Know everything you could about your precious one’s disease. The more you know about how dementia may impact an individual’s behavior and capacities, the easier it'll be to come up along with solutions to dementia-related problems.
     
  • Seek meaning in craziness: Researches show that care providers who are in a position to derive meaning and purpose from their experiences find the burden of caring for a one to be lighter than people who view the experience through a predominantly negative lens. If you’re having trouble locating the positive, start a diary to chronicle the beneficial experiences and insights you’ve accumulated from your caregiving journey.

For additional information on coping with anxiety, preventing burnout and keeping your sanity while taking care of a one with Alzheimer’s, consult this collection of caregiver support articles.

Self-Care Essentials

Here are a few additional resources to guide you on the way to attend to your very own physical and mental health while caring for a one with Alzheimer’s:


Need immediate assistance? Call (858) 529-1886.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and receive care advise for free.