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Published on: December 24, 2014
by Alzheimer’s Association:
Many people consider the holidays to be the most wonderful time of the year. However, hosting family, organizing events and the chaos of the holidays can be even more stressful for people caring for loved ones with dementia. Alzheimer caregivers frequently report experiencing high levels of stress.
The Alzheimer’s Association has identified a list of common signs of caregiver stress;
Lack of concentration
For stressed out caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association also has suggestions for managing the stress:
Find time for yourself
Consider taking advantage of respite care so you can spend time doing something you enjoy. Respite care gives caregivers a temporary rest from care giving, while the person with Alzheimer’s continues to receive care in a safe environment.
Know what community resources are available
Contact the Alzheimer’s Association or use their online Community Resource Finder to find dementia care resources in your area. Adult day programs, in-home assistance, companions and meal delivery are just some of the services that can help you manage daily tasks.
Become an educated caregiver
As the disease progresses, new care giving skills may be necessary. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with common behavioral and personality changes that may occur.
Take care of yourself
Try to eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you are healthy can help you be a better caregiver.
Manage your level of stress
Stress can cause physical problems (blurred vision, stomach irritation, high blood pressure) and changes in behavior (irritability, lack of concentration, change in appetite). Note your symptoms and discuss with a doctor, as needed. Try to find relaxation techniques that work for you.
Accept changes as they occur
People with Alzheimer’s change over time and so do their needs. They may require care beyond what you can provide on your own. Becoming aware of community resources – from home care services to residential care – can make the transition easier. So will the support and assistance of those around you.
Make legal and financial plans
Putting legal, financial and safety plans in place after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is extremely important so that the person with the disease can participate. Having future plans can provide comfort to the entire family. Many documents, including advance directives, can be prepared without the help of an attorney. However, if you are unsure about how to complete legal documents or make financial plans, you may want to seek assistance from an attorney specializing in elder law and/or a financial adviser who is familiar with elder or long-term care planning.
You’re doing your best
Know that the care you provide makes a difference and that you are doing the best you can. You may feel guilty because you can’t do more, but individual care needs change as Alzheimer’s progresses. You can’t promise how care will be delivered, but you can make sure that the person with Alzheimer’s is well cared for and safe.
Visit with your doctor regularly
Take time to get regular checkups, and be aware of what your body is telling you. Pay attention to any exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness or changes in appetite or behavior. Ignoring symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline.
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