“If you’re caring for a loved one at home with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia today, you already know how challenging a job it can be,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director of the beautiful new Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola in Pensacola, FL.
“What you might not know is that one of the most serious aspects of the challenge you face is that of caregiver stress. Left unchecked, caregiver stress can have serious consequences for your own health and well-being and leave you unable to take care of your loved one let alone yourself. In fact, caregivers have been called the “second victims” of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Caregiver stress should be taken very seriously, and it is important that you learn important coping techniques that can minimize the dangers.”
Signs You Might be Suffering from Caregiver Stress
Alzheimer’s care experts at the Mayo Clinic® say that you can be so focused on your loved one that you don't realize that your own health and well-being are in jeopardy. Therefore, it is very important to monitor yourself for a variety of stress byproducts and signs that can lead to serious health problems. These include:
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling sad
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
Caregiver stress experienced over an extended period of time can lead to burnout, which can result in depression, sleeplessness, hypertension and serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Remember, you can’t take care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s if you don’t take care of yourself first. Your health and your life are every bit as important as your love one’s!
Find some time to take the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Stress Check and if you have symptoms of caregiver stress, contact your doctor immediately to discuss a wellness plan.
Lonette adds, “The good news for Alzheimer’s caregivers is that there several helpful tips from dementia care experts that can help to mitigate your level of stress and make your life more balanced and manageable.”
Expert Coping Techniques for Caregiver Stress
The Alzheimer’s Association® article, “Caregiver Stress,”offers several useful pointers that can help to reduce Alzheimer’s caregiver stress. These include:
- Seek help and support – Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted and at risk of burnout. Get the support of family and friends and suggestions from other caregivers going through similar experiences. Always be very specific in telling others exactly what they can do to help, e.g., “Please take mom to the dentist next Thursday.” The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900), online message boards and local support groups offer good sources of comfort and reassurance.
- Find out what resources are available – Adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and meal delivery are just some of the community services that can help you manage your daily tasks. Use the Alzheimer’s Association’s online Community Resource Finder or contact your local Alzheimer's Association chapter for assistance in finding Alzheimer's care resources in your community. The Alzheimer’s Navigator® is a free online tool that helps evaluate your needs, identifies action steps and connects you with local programs and services.
- Use relaxation techniques –There are several simple relaxation techniques that can help relieve your stress. Try more than one to find which works best for you. For example:
- Visualization (mentally picturing a place or situation that is peaceful and calm)
- Meditation (which can be as simple as dedicating 15 minutes a day to letting go of all stressful thoughts)
- Breathing exercises (slowing your breathing and focusing on taking deep breaths)
- Progressive muscle relaxation (tightening and then relaxing each muscle group, starting at one end of your body and working your way to the other end)
- Get physical –Physical activity can help to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help. Take a walk and/or do an activity you love, such as gardening or dancing.
- Take time for yourself – As a caregiver, it's hard to find time for yourself, but staying connected to friends, family and activities that you love is important for your well-being. Yoga, exercise, music, gardening and outings with friends can take the edge off of stress. Even if it's only for 30 minutes a week, carve out a pocket of time just for yourself.
- Become an educated caregiver –As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary. The Alzheimer's Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that typically accompany Alzheimer's.
- Consider respite care – Services such as respite care and adult day care take care of your loved one for a defined period of time and enable you to “take a breather” and care for your own needs.
“By practicing these expert coping techniques for caregiver stress, you can gain more control over your life while reducing the serious physical and emotional threats to your own well-being,” says Lonette.
“Help is available to you in many forms, including from the compassionate team at Clarity Pointe Pensacola.”
Supporting At-Home Caregivers and Families with Information, Guidance and Support
At Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we recognize the many challenges memory care caregivers face, and we’re always here to help. In addition to providing exceptional memory care for loved ones with memory loss, we also offer a variety of resources for families to help them meet the challenges of caring for a loved one with memory loss while continuing to have meaningful interactions and relationships.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s valuable memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers that address a variety of helpful topics that you can put to use today.
Clarity Pointe™ … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s™ Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.