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Managing Caregiver Stress

Mother and dauther HoldingIt can be overwhelming to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, but too much stress can be harmful to both of you. Here are ways to avoid burnout:

Understand available resources.
Adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses, and meal delivery are just some of the services that can help you manage daily tasks.

Get help.
Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted. Seek the support of family, friends and caregivers going through similiar experiences. Tell others exactly what they can do to help.

• Use relaxation techniques.
There are several simple relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress. Try more than one to find which works best for you.
Techniques include:
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 moving.
Physical activity — in any form — can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help. Take a walk. Do an activity you love, such as gardening or dancing.

• Make 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.

• Become an educated caregiver.
As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary.

• Take care of yourself.
Visit your doctor regularly. Watch your diet, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you stay healthy will help you be a better caregiver.

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