Dementia Caregivers and Stress

Dementia Caregivers & Stress

Everyone has stress in their life. But as Dr McEwen says in the below video clip, not all stress is bad stress. Our brains need to be challenged on a daily basis to help it stay healthy, but some stress can be very damaging to our brain. Being the caregiver of someone living with dementia can cause this kind of stress. Dementia is caused by structural and chemical changes that occur in the brain and therefore being a caregiver to someone who is living with brain change, can also be emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually draining. This can cause caregivers to experience different kinds of grief, including, anticipatory grief, sudden loss, complicated loss and feeling as if their loved one is lost because they seem so different. With aging and dementia,  grief is created by the inevitable loss of life. Find more about grief and grief support by visiting this website.

Negative stress can dramatically lower your quality of life, and it is important to recognize the warning signs.

Signs That You Have Negative Stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Healthy Tips For Dementia Caregivers

You can significantly reduce the amount of bad stress in your life by making a few small changes.  The key to making these changes is to look at your whole life. This means to take a holistic approach, which encompasses the body, heart, mind and spirit.  A holistic approach has been demonstrated to lower stress levels and promote a sense of well-being. Because doing too much at one time and trying to fix everything, can also increase your stress level, begin by choosing one thing to work on at a time.

Before you begin to look at things to change, it is also important to find a support system to help you make these healthy changes.  Being a caregiver can be a very isolating experience which can happen for many reasons. But we are built to be in relationship and therefore it is very important to find people who can support you in your journey.  If family are unable to be supportive, look at places and people in your community to reach out to. The Orchard at Brookhaven, will have support groups for caregivers and loved ones that focus on helping you with this journey and making it work for you and your loved one. Another great resource is the Alzheimers Association Georgia Chapter.

In our next article we will look at some ways for caregivers to live a holistic healthy life.