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Dealing with Dementia Caregiving Stress

Did you know?

While the majority of caregivers are female, in recent years the number of male caregivers taking care of spouses and other loved ones has been increasing. Visit this link from Victoria, Australia's Better Health Channel to learn about some of the concerns a male caregiver might face:
Dementia - men and caring

After you begin to express and understand the emotions and stresses that affect you while caregiving, be proactive and consistent in your efforts to manage the negatives and accentuate the positives:

Create a schedule: While it may seem like one more thing to worry about, setting out a schedule for the day, the week, or the month can be both a help and an eye-opener. You quickly will be able to reference all the various chores, events, and appointments that need to be accomplished for your loved one and yourself. You will also be able to more easily find those empty blocks of time where you can plan in advance to create time for yourself. Finally, you will be able to recognize what activities or chores another friend or family member can manage to be able to ask them in advance.

Create personal time away from the home: It is important that you find time to get away from the house if your loved one lives with you. Whether you go out to dinner with a spouse, take your grandchildren or children to a movie, or go for a solitary run in the park, time away from your loved one can give you the breath of fresh air you need to keep going. If you do not have friends, family, or neighbors that can see to your loved one while you are away, seriously consider using some form of respite care (link to section).

Create personal time at home: If you live at home with your loved one, it is important that you can find personal, private time away from him or her. If need be, find time before your loved one awakes or after he or she goes to sleep to sit down and enjoy a book, pursue a craft, play a musical instrument, pray, meditate, or write a blog or journal. Remember that your home should be a caring place for you as well.

Create time for exercise: Regular exercise is one of the most important ways to manage stress. Even 15 minutes a day, at least 3 times per week can make a difference. Ideas for fitting it into a caregiver’s life include using a treadmill in the home or going for a quick walk when a nurse or respite worker comes in. Regular exercise is even thought to delay the onset of dementia.

Create meaningful together time: Finally, it is important to create moments during the day or week when you can have meaningful and positive experiences with your loved one. These special events, need not be special or extraordinary. Choose an activity that you enjoyed together before the diagnosis such as baking, going to the beach, or singing to the radio. Remember these positive peaks when you are feeling burnt out.

Resources

Tips for Coping With Caregiver Stress

Source: WebMD
Description: These two web pages discuss various aspects of stress management for caregivers including defining stress, describing its warning signs and causes, and strategies caregivers can use to reduce stress.

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Caregiver Stress: Respect your Well-Being

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This brochure examines the top 10 signs of caregiver stress and provides 10 tips for remaining healthy. It can be ordered in bulk from the Alzheimer's Association.

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Stress Management Resources

Source: Mind Tools
Description: This webpage offers a comprehensive discussion of stress from explaining what it is and what causes it to ways to avoid and cope with it. The website also markets products to support stress management.

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A Guide To Coping With Health Problems and Stress

Source: ManageStressNow.com
Description: This 10-page guidebook written by a nurse clinician at the Duke University Health System includes practical information for stressed out caregivers -- how stress affects the body, signs of stress, coping with stress, and more.

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