Taking care of yourself helps you to take care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease1
If you’re a caregiver, you know that looking after someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be rewarding. But it can also be very stressful. Alzheimer’s disease caregivers frequently report high levels of stress, so if you’re feeling the pressure, you are not alone.
Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Too much stress can be harmful to you and the person you are caring for. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to care for anyone else. Follow the tips below to help you cope and avoid burnout.
Tips to help manage stress1
- Learn about available resources – These may include adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses, or delivery services, and they can help you manage your daily tasks. The Alzheimer’s Association has some excellent information about available services, and there is an online Community Resource Finder on their website
- Ask for help – Doing everything yourself can leave you exhausted. If you need help, ask family members, friends, and other caregivers going through similar experiences. Be specific about the type of help you need. There are also online message boards and support groups that can provide good sources of comfort and reassurance
- Relax to relieve stress – There are many relaxation techniques you can use to help you relieve stress (for example, meditation, breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation). The Mayo Clinic website has some good information about relaxation techniques
- Stay active – Physical activity, in any form, can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Each day, try to spend some time doing an activity you enjoy, even if it is only for 10 minutes
- Schedule time for yourself – It can be very difficult to find time for yourself when you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. But staying connected to friends, family members, and activities that you enjoy is important for your well-being
- Join a support group – A support group can be a great source of encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends
- Monitor your own health – Get enough rest and sleep and see your doctor regularly. Make sure you tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Talk to your doctor about any concerns or symptoms you have. Taking care of yourself and staying healthy will help you to be a better caregiver
- Educate yourself – As the disease progresses, you may have to learn new caregiving skills. Becoming an educated caregiver can help you through the different stages of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association has many online resources and training programs for caregivers