Loved ones who care for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia can face real stress that often goes unrecognized and untreated.
"It's normal to need a break from caregiving duties,” said Leslie Gregory, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter. "No one can do it all by themselves. Consider taking advantage of respite care or help from family and friends to spend time doing something you enjoy.”
November is National Family Caregivers Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
In Georgia, there are more than a half million people providing care to 130,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
But caregiving can be physically, emotionally and financially draining.
The Alzheimer's Association has found that 59% of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias rated their emotional stress as high or very high.
The Georgia Chapter has an early stage support group and "A Time To Talk" peer telephone support group to help.
Here are 10 signs of caregiver stress:
- Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. I know Mom is going to get better.
- Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s or frustration that he or she can’t do the things they used to be able to do. He knows how to get dressed — he’s just being stubborn.
- Social withdrawal from friends and activities that used to make you feel good. I don’t care about visiting with the neighbors anymore.
- Anxiety about the future and facing another day. What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?
- Depression that breaks your spirit and affects your ability to cope. I just don’t care anymore.
- Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. I’m too tired for this.
- Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?
- Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. Leave me alone!
- Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. I was so busy, I forgot my appointment.
- Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll. I can’t remember the last time I felt good.
To help caregivers cope, the Alzheimer's Association has a list of 10 ways to manage stress and be a healthier caregiver.
"Contact the Georgia Chapter of Alzheimer’s Association office to locate dementia care resources in your area. We also have a 24-7 helpline and wonderful resources on our website," Gregory added.
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