Stress can damage your health if you do not manage it properly. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness is scary and stressful. Stress management and self-care are essential for every Alzheimer’s caregiver. Untreated caregiver stress increases the risk of caregiver burnout and can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, anxiety, depression, and numerous other health issues.
Being proactive in dealing with stress has both short-term and long-term benefits for caregivers’ physical, mental, and emotional health, which is why it’s something that we should prioritize.
A caregiver’s attitude plays a huge role in stress levels—if the caregiver is calm and relaxed, it helps the individual living with Alzheimer’s to be as well. Conversely, an angry, agitated caregiver increases the chances that the person for whom they are caring will be angry and agitated too. Be adaptable, be positive, and aim for constructive solutions to changing situations.
Deal with what you can control
You cannot control every stress-causing factor, but you can control how you react to them. Focusing on finding solutions to the problem can help reduce the stress it’s causing.
Mind your health
Inadequate rest, poor diet and lack of exercise can all exacerbate stress (and create other health problems as well). As best you can, prioritize getting sleep, eating right, drinking plenty of water, and being active. You cannot provide quality care to a loved one if you don’t take care of yourself.
Clear and refresh your mind
Exercise, yoga, meditating, listening to music, walking, or even taking a few deep breaths can all help relax the mind and reduce stress. Find something that works for you and do it regularly!
Take things one day at a time
Resolving everything at once is both impossible and unrealistic—don’t hold yourself to that unreasonable expectation. Prioritize, set practical goals, do your best to achieve them, and take things one day at a time.
Stay in touch
There are so many ways to stay socially connected with family and friends—visits, FaceTime, phone calls, text messages, and emails, just to name a few. Disconnecting from your support structure and staying bottled-up increases stress.
Be open with your feelings
Sometimes just talking about your stress can help relieve it. Whether it’s with someone in your support structure, a professional, or even a stranger, don’t be reluctant to open up. There are various Helplines with licensed social workers available for caregivers for seven days to provide support or even just listen.
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