Hello and welcome. Stress and burnout are the most common problems for those who care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Take stock of your stress level by asking yourself whether you’re experiencing any of the following emotional and physical symptoms. For an even better reality check, have your partner or other loved one answer the questions for you to see what someone close to you thinks.
There’s no formula for defining your stress level, but if your yes answers outnumber your no answers, or if just two or three of the categories seem to apply to you, consider taking steps to ease your situation.
Here are the symptoms that suggest you need a break:
1. A short fuse • Do you get angry easily? • Do you feel resentment towards your loved one? • Do you feel irritable toward other family members or find yourself snapping at them? One of the more obvious signs of family caregiver stress is losing your cool easily. Frustration may particularly increase when obstacles or challenges come up, whether major or minor.
2. Emotional Outbursts • Do you cry often or unexpectedly? • Do you experience feelings of depression? • Do you have dramatic mood swings? It’s natural to grieve as your loved one’s condition declines. It’s also normal to feel a complicated range of emotions about having to parent your loved one. Depression is a real risk for caregivers. Even if you’re not clinically depressed, emotional outbursts can be an unconscious outlet for feelings of being overwhelmed.
3. Sleep Problems • Do you have trouble falling asleep? • Do you have trouble staying asleep? • Do you wake up tired? If your loved one is sundowning, wanders, or has disrupted sleep, you lose opportunities to rest on top of the tiring work you do all day. Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep can also be caused by stress, anxiety, and depression.
4. Physical Ailments • Do you get headaches often? • Have you had colds one after another? • Does your back or neck ache, or do you have other chronic pains? • Have you developed high blood pressure? Mental and emotional stress can cause physical disorders. For example, stress can lead to headaches that are more frequent, more persistent, or stronger than you’re used to. Under stress, your body is in a constant state of alert, which can cause your body to produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol, which can have many effects.
5. Complaints from family • Have you been accused of being a “control freak”? • Have you been told you don’t spend enough time with your partner or children? • Are arguments with siblings over your loved one’s care on the rise? It’s a common caregiver temptation — and mistake — to take on the entire burden of care. Alzheimer’s caregiving can become all-consuming. Every caregiver eventually needs assistance — usually sooner rather than later, and usually from a variety of sources.
If you need a hand, know that plenty of forms of help are available.
You can make changes in your care routine, enlist the part-time efforts of friends and family, tap into community resources, or hire assistance. To speak with us at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for joining us today and we’ll see you again next month!