Discovering that a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and will need regular care over time can be distressing. As you care for your loved one, you may find yourself faced with challenges and situations that you’ve never encountered before. This can cause a great deal of stress, potentially leading to chronic stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues over time. Learning how to manage this stress ahead of time is critical to your family member’s wellness and yours. Here are a few tips on how to deal with the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Take some time to understand the disease and what to expect.
Education can go a long way in helping you to prepare for the future and know how to deal with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurological brain disorder characterized by symptoms like memory loss, changes in behavior and mood, difficulty handling normal daily tasks, wandering around or getting lost in places they should otherwise know, and losing things or repeating questions over and over again. As a caregiver, there are resources out there that can help you understand how to best support older adults with this disease, what treatment options are available (medications, therapies, etc.), and what support is available to you and your loved one. Understanding Alzheimer’s disease may not reduce its impact, but it can prepare you for its progression so that you feel more in control and less taken aback or stressed out by common symptoms.
Make sure that you’re properly taking care of yourself.
Caregivers that are chronically stressed and dedicating themselves entirely to the care of another will often suffer from what’s called caregiver burnout. When you’re burnt out, it makes it difficult to properly care for your loved one. This can cause further stress and negatively impact your own health. One of the most essential ways to cope with stress and be the best caregiver you can be is by practicing self-care. At the most basic level, this will look like getting plenty of sleep, eating right, drinking water, and exercising to lead the best possible quality of life. However, you might also want to look for practices that help you de-stress and stay in a good mood. For example, meditating, journaling, or even just taking some time to watch your favorite movie are all great self-help exercises. Caregiving means caring for another, but it absolutely requires you to take care of yourself every step of the way.
Enjoy the small moments between you and your loved one.
Changes in personality and memory problems can often be some of the most stressful symptoms that you will encounter as you care for your loved one. At times, you may not feel like you’re caring for someone whom you’ve known for years. However, this shouldn’t take away from the beautiful moments that the two of your share together. When their personality and memory shine through, use this time to connect with them and have fun. During days when they’re feeling exceptionally good, you might want to even look for some fun activities you can do from the comfort of your home. Creative activities might help to enhance cognitive function and help them exercise certain motor functions, which can be beneficial for them. Put simply, while there are moments that will certainly stress you out, living for the great moments can reduce some of the burden of dealing with the less enjoyable times.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful. Learn how to navigate this experience and reduce your overall stress with the tips offered in the guide above.