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Caring For the Caregiver

People who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia often experience high levels of stress. It is overwhelming to take on the full-time care of someone who is experiencing brain changes. No matter how hard you try, reasoning with them feels like a fruitless endeavor. Just as you finally find a way to manage their current symptoms and behaviors, a new one appears and you find yourself back at square one. Sleepless nights, managing medications, juggling appointments, the endless repetition of questions, answers, and accusations, the danger of wandering from home, precious fading memories, and the worry of what the next day will bring… it’s enough to push the strongest of us to our breaking point. But too much stress can be harmful to both of you. Bit by bit, you may notice your own well-being taking a backseat to your loved one’s increasing needs, and that is a recipe for disaster. When your own mental and physical health declines, your ability to be an effective caregiver begins to fade.

The Alzheimer’s Association advises caregivers to watch for these 10 signs of “caregiver burnout.”

  1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed.
  2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s, anger that no cure exists or anger that people don’t understand what’s happening.
  3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure.
  4. Anxiety about the future.
  5. Depression begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope.
  6. Exhaustion makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks.
  7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns.
  8. Irritability leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions.
  9. Lack of concentration makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks.
  10. Health problems begin to take a mental and physical toll.

If you experience signs of stress on a regular basis, please don’t wait to seek help. Consult your doctor and reach out to a trusted family member or friend for support.

And remember that all of us at Autumn Leaves are here to help. If you’re not yet ready to move your loved one into our community, ask about options for respite care. This short term care can give you a much-needed break as well as a chance to familiarize yourself with our community.

Let us be a resource, too. We often host educational events as well as support groups. You’re welcome to attend, even if your loved one is not a resident in one of our communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these events will be virtual, but we look forward to relaunching in-person events in 2021.

Trying to do everything by yourself will leave you exhausted and burned out. A burned-out caregiver may find that they themselves may now require care if mental and physical health is not made a priority. Please don’t wait to reach out for help! Call us at 888-662-8886.