Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is a lot like a job. It can wear you down. It can make you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Except while most of us get to punch out at the end of the day and go on vacation, caregivers do not. If not managed properly, caregiver stress can have serious consequences for your physical and mental health.
Look below for signs of caregiver stress. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of the following symptoms on a regular basis, call your doctor or contact your local Alzheimer Society.
1. Denial about the disease and its affect on the person with Alzheimer’s disease: “I know mom will get better. They have just made a mistake.”
2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s disease and others: “If he asks me that question one more time I will scream.”
3. Withdrawing socially. You no longer want to stay in touch with friends or participate in activities you once enjoyed: “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbours anymore.”
4. Anxiety about facing another day and what the future holds: “I’m worried about what will happen when I can no longer provide care.”
5. Depression. You feel sad and hopeless much of the time. “I just don’t care anymore.”
6. Exhaustion. You barely have the energy to complete your daily tasks: “I don’t have the energy to do anything anymore.”
7. Sleeplessness. You wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares and stressful dreams: “I rarely sleep through the night, listening to hear if dad is out of bed.”
8. Emotional reaction. you cry at minor upsets and are often irritable: “I cried when the grocery store was out of my favourite cereal. Then I yelled at the clerk.”
9. Lack of concentration. you have trouble focusing and find it difficult to complete complex tasks: “I used to do the daily crossword, now I am lucky if I can concentrate enough to solve one quarter of it.”
10. Health problems. you may lose or gain weight, get sick more often or develop chronic health problems (backaches, headaches, highblood pressure): “Since the spring, I have had either a cold or flu. I just can’t seem to shake them.”
For more advice on caregiver well-being, visit our website.