Regardless of the exact responsibilities you might face as a family caregiver, this role will always be a challenging one. While you might be extremely busy taking care of your loved one, you must make sure to make time for yourself! Especially with Alzheimer’s’ patients, it is easy to feel stressed, anxious, and frustrated after spending many hours taking care of your loved one.
Caregiver burnout is a real condition which describes the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that comes with constantly providing care for the elderly. These symptoms can manifest themselves in an assortment of ways. High levels of stress, fatigue, and inattentiveness are key symptoms that can affect you while on the job and threaten your ability to care for someone else. Managing this kind of caregiver stress is crucial for ensuring that you can perform your role as caregiver to the best of your ability.
If you find yourself getting repeatedly anxious at work, it is important to think about taking a step back. Not only does getting anxious affect your own health in negative ways, it can also affect your patient if you are not able to provide the quality of care your patient deserves. Take time to ensure that you are still doing the things you enjoy and maintain a healthy balance between work and play. Give yourself a break when you need it, and this will help to manage stress levels and relieve the daily anxiety that may come with caring for someone.
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A great way caregivers can help manage stress levels is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. This releases serotonin in the brain and also helps to boost your energy. It is also important to make sure that your daily diet is nourishing and that you get enough sleep. Sometimes caregivers pay so much attention to their elderly client or loved one’s nutrition that they quickly forget their own body’s needs! Depending on the degree of assistance required by your patient, it is important to remember that if you are not at your best it will be difficult to help provide care for others.
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There are support groups designed specifically for caregivers that work with Alzheimer’s patients, as these can be one of the most exhaustive tasks for a caregiver. Alzheimer’s support groups for caregivers can be found at most senior centers, religious organizations, and also at the Official Alzheimer’s Organization. IF you are a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient we highly recommend that you go through an Alzheimer’s training program. This program has an entire section dedicated to the unique stress of taking care of Alzheimer’s patient.
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If you think that you are experiencing symptoms of caregiver burnout, there are caregiver self-assessment questionnaires available online. Your role in the family is extremely important to both the patient as well as their loved ones. While your number one priority as a caregiver is to attend to the needs of your family member, it is important to remember that taking care of yourself is equally as important. With a little attention to yourself you can manage caregiver stress and ensure that you are healthy, happy, and ready to help assist your patient.