Wednesday Workshop – The Effects of Caregiver Stress on the Body and Brain

Wednesday Workshop – The Effects of Caregiver Stress on the Body and Brain

Wednesday Workshop – The Effects of Caregiver Stress on the Body and Brain

Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop. There is no doubt that caring for a loved one is a stressful yet rewarding role. As our population ages, more and more non-medical caregivers are providing care to aging individuals like family members or close friends.[1] Managing stress from caregiving activities, with the emotional strain of seeing a loved one who can no longer help themselves, can be exhausting. These conditions can lead to declines in your emotional and physical wellbeing.

In today’s Wednesday workshop, we will be discussing the effects of caregiving stress on the brain.

Caregiving stress can affect your mind, mood, and overall physical health.  There are also risk factors that influence how much you may experience. These risk factors include your gender, education level, financial circumstances, and previous mental conditions. The first step to managing stress is to be aware of your situation and what predispositions you may or may not have.

The effects that caregiving can have on your brain look a lot like those of stress in general. Some people may experience anxiety, depression, exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and changes in mood. Stress over extended periods of time, research has shown, can have adverse health consequences.[2] Stress triggers chemical changes in the brain that could negatively restructure neural networks, harm your memory capacity, decrease your learning capabilities, and destroy neurons. These conditions are undesirable for anyone, let alone people who need to devote a lot of time and energy to taking care of their loved one. And if we consider other consequences of stress, like trouble sleeping, then we may have to deal with the effects of those deficiencies, as well.

Stress also has noticeable effects in other parts of your body like weight gain and digestive issues. It can also weaken our immune system making us susceptible to illnesses.[3]

If you are a family caregiver and feel that you are overwhelmed, exhausted, depressed, or anxious, then you may be suffering from the effects of stress.

Medical professionals recommend that you address this as soon as you can. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to alleviate the strain you may be feeling. Stress management can take various forms. You can address stress through techniques like meditation or mindfulness, or you can also perform physical exercises which are heavily correlated with decreased stress levels. Lastly, seeking psychological or psychiatric help may be very beneficial and should not be overlooked. If you want to learn more about coping strategies or activities to relieve stress, then simply click here.

Thank you for watching our Wednesday Workshop. To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop! We’ll see you next week!

[1] Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784

[2] Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/brain-stress_n_6148470.html

[3] Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/art-20046037

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