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Dealing with the Stress of Caring for Dementia Patients

Caring for dementia patients, even those for whom you care deeply, can be stressful for caregivers. How caregivers deal with that stress can actually exacerbate the patient’s condition or help it. A recent study showed how a caregiver’s stress-management techniques affected dementia patients. The results revealed caregivers with healthy stress-management strategies could potentially slow down a loved one’s mental decline by 37 percent. This means adopting healthier stress management techniques may not only benefit caregivers but dementia patients, as well.

Signs of Stress

Everyone expresses stress in different ways, but there are signs that can reveal whether stressors are worsening your quality of life. Taking care of a loved one is difficult, but if it’s overwhelming, it is important to look for ways to manage stress.

Warning signs of stress include:

  • Denial
  • Anger or frustration
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to sleep
  • Lack of concentration

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or the person caring for your loved one, don’t ignore them. Instead, learn ways to reduce your stress or the stress of the caregiver.

Stressful Behaviors and Types of Coping Techniques

Dementia patients can show distressing behaviors such as wandering, sundowner’s syndrome (also known as sundowning), anxiety, and hallucinations. These behaviors place stress on both the loved one and the caregiver. Caregivers should consider sttress-manageent strategies to combat their stress and the stress of their patients.

Healthy Stress-Reducing Strategies

Being able express pent-up emotions is essential for relieving stress. Many caregivers keep their feelings to themselves (often to protect their patient), but there are safe ways to let out these stressors. Talking it out with someone in a similar situation or a professional counselor is a great first step for dealing with caregiving stress. If you don’t have that support, consider:

  • Finding a caregiver support group
  • Writing down your thoughts/anxieties
  • Focusing on the positive when you are feeling stressed

It’s crucial to take care of the caregiver. Caregivers often sacrifice their own health to take care of their patients, but a few minutes of a self-care is crucial to stress reduction. Caregivers might consider:

  • Taking a walk
  • Working in the garden
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Reading a fun novel
  • Meditation or doing yoga

When caregivers reduce their stress, it’s easier to care for their patients – and their patients feel less stress as a result. Respite care is crucial for a healthy caregiver/patient relationship.

Do you have a question or need assistance? Feel free to contact us at 419-754-1897. We’ll be happy to help.