Ways to Manage Stress, be a Healthier Caregiver

Are you so overwhelmed by taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or other related dementia that you’ve neglected your own physical, mental and emotional well-being? 

by Lesley Jenkins, Alzheimer’s Association Regional Executive for Northern Arizona

To avoid putting your own health at risk, consider these tips:

Take a break

Respite care services can give you a temporary rest from caregiving while the person with Alzheimer’s continues to receive care in a safe environment. Visit www.alz.org/care to learn more.

Seek out community resources

Visit Alzheimer’s Association and AARP Community Resource Finder (www.alz.org/CRF) to access a database of dementia and aging-related resources in your area. Adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and meal delivery are some of the services that can help you manage daily tasks.

Become an educated caregiver

As Alzheimer’s and other related dementias progresses, new caregiving skills may be needed. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you understand and cope with common behavioral and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer’s. Visit www.alz.org/care to learn more and access care training resources, including free online workshops. 

Get help, find support

Our 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900), ALZConnected online social networking community (www.alzconnected.org) and local support groups (www.alz.org/CRF) are good resources. 

Make legal, financial plans

Putting legal and financial plans in place after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis allows the person living with the disease to participate in decision-making. Having these plans in place can provide comfort to the entire family. Many documents, including advance directives, can be prepared without the help of a legal professional. However, if you’re unsure about how to complete legal documents or make financial plans, you may want to seek assistance from an attorney specializing in elder law, a financial adviser who is familiar with elder or long-term care planning, or both.

Know you’re doing your best

Remember the care you provide makes a difference and that you’re doing the best you can. You may feel guilty because you can’t do more, but care needs increase as Alzheimer’s progresses. Regardless of how care is delivered, you can make sure the person living with the disease is well cared for and safe.

Visit your doctor regularly

Take time to get regular checkups and pay attention to any exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness or changes in your appetite or behavior. Ignoring symptoms can cause your physical and mental health to decline.

For more information visit www.alz.org/dsw