Dementia, Caregiving and Managing Stress

As a family caregiver for your elderly relative with dementia, you know that the time you spend taking care of them is both rewarding and frustrating. No matter what the situation, caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining. When the aging adult has dementia, it can add another layer of stress to your duties. All too often, family caregivers like you forget to take care of themselves because you get a little lost in your daily responsibilities to others.

The danger of having chronic stress is that it can take a negative toll on your health. In fact, chronic tress is so common in family caregivers that it is called “caregiver burnout.” This condition simply means that the caregiver is experiencing heightened emotional and physical strain. It can result in all kinds of health issues, such as high blood pressure, insomnia, weight loss or gain, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and more. You won’t be doing yourself or your elderly loved one any good if you suffer from caregiver burnout.

Managing Stress as a Family Caregiver

When your aging relative struggles with dementia, it can sometimes be extremely challenging to get them to do even the most basic tasks, such as bathing, dressing and going to the doctor. Dementia affects their perception of reality, changes their mood and can warp their reality. Dealing with dementia day in and day out is tiring and stressful. Without a break, you won’t have the chance to take care of your health and your needs, leading to burnout.

It’s incredibly important for you to take time for yourself, without guilt or hesitation. Above all, you must take care of yourself physically, so that means healthy meals, regular exercise and a good night’s sleep. You also need to take time for respite from your caregiving tasks. From reading a book and engaging in your favorite hobby to running errands and socializing with friends, you need to do these kinds of activities to maintain balance in your life. You also need someone to talk to about your feelings, such as a spouse, support group, clergy member, counselor or therapist. These coping strategies will hep you avoid caregiver burnout.

How to Get Help With Caregiving

Once you decide to make regular breaks from your caregiving duties a priority, you need to get help with your aging loved one. Other family members are a good place to start. Many families set up a schedule so that they each spend some meaningful time with their elderly relative with dementia. When families share responsibility, no single person is overburdened.

Another option is to hire a home care assistant to take regular shifts with the aging adult. Home care assistants are trained and experienced in helping elderly dementia clients bathe and dress. The home care aide can prepare meals and ensure the person is eating. They can also do light housekeeping, take care of some errands and simply be there so that the elderly person with dementia is safe and doesn’t wander.

The home care assistant gives you the chance for regular breaks where you can feel comfortable that your elderly relative is in good hands. It’s one of the best ways to fight off caregiver burnout.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Okemos, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.