How to care for someone with Alzheimer's, while taking care of yourself
As a caregiver, you are under stress, and how you deal with it can affect your health and take away the care you can provide to your family member. With Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the stress of caregiving can be especially overwhelming at times.
“You need to recognize the signs that stress is starting to affect you and know how to manage things,” said Alan Hubbard, NTI’s Chief Operating Officer. A nonprofit organization, NTI helps Americans with disabilities and family caregivers find remote work opportunities with free training and job placement services.
“There are resources available to help you, including ours, that make sure you are getting the support you need,” said Hubbard. Financially, caregiving can take a toll on you, but NTI offers caregivers a chance to work at home on a schedule that fits into their caregiving responsibilities. “We recognize the financial hardships that caregivers face and want to help them out,” added Hubbard. “The main thing, though, is taking care of yourself while you are taking care of others.”
One of the groups that can provide a great deal of help is the Alzheimer’s Organization, which provides a list of symptoms on its website to help recognize caregiver stress and tips on how to manage it.
Denial and anger can be stress indicators to look out for. The caregiver thinks the person he or she is taking care of is going to get better, or they become angry that the person can’t do what they used to do.
If the caregiver is feeling anxiety and depression, and experiencing social withdrawal, it can be because of an increased stress level. Keeping up in contact with your friends and participating in social life can benefit your mental health. Using techniques such as visualization, meditation, and breathing exercises can also help.
Caregivers need to be aware that exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, and a lack of concentration can also be signs of stress affecting their caregiving ability. To prevent this from happening, make sure you are getting out and doing things you enjoy doing. Try to make time for yourself. Even if it is only for 15 minutes.
“You need to keep a close eye on your health,” said Hubbard. “This includes physically and mentally and needing to watch out for signs that your health is declining. Planning days off can be a big help to prevent you from getting sick.” It is recommended that you visit your doctor regularly, watch your diet and eat healthy, exercise, and make sure you get enough rest.
Make sure you investigate the community resources available in your community. Adult-day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses, and meal delivery services might all be available to you. Your local Alzheimer’s group can help find the support you may need.
Being a caregiver is a hard job that no one can do alone. Keep in mind that it only gets harder if you don’t take care of yourself too.
To register to find a work-at-home job with NTI go to www.ntiathome.org