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All You Need to Know About Dementia Caregiver Stress

All You Need to Know About Dementia Caregiver Stress



Dementia can be hard to treat because dementia care has to cater to different needs – of both the patient and the caregiver. Caring for people with dementia can be challenging. Taking care of someone who has cared for you is immensely difficult and stressful. Keeping this in mind, we offer dementia caregiver support to keep caregivers happy and relaxed so they can be the companion their loved one needs. Read on to find out what caregiver stress is and how to combat it in a way that is beneficial to both the caregiver and the person with dementia.

dementia caregiver

What is Dementia Caregiver Stress?

Dementia is a progressive mental disorder that affects the memory and cognitive abilities of a person. As the disorder progresses, the patient requires an increased level of attention, and care from family and loved ones. Watching a close family member struggle with memory issues and simple day-to-day activities can be quite overwhelming for the caregivers.

Caring for dementia is a prolonged, stressful, and emotional experience. Dementia caregivers often find themselves to be anxious, angry, irritable, and less focused. They might often feel socially isolated as they have to constantly take care of the dementia patient, which impacts multiple aspects of their lives. As per dementia caregiver stress statistics, 30 – 40% of caregivers experience burn out episodes and are vulnerable to depression, and a multitude of other disorders.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Stress can manifest itself in an array of forms. Caring for dementia patients can be physically and psychologically exhausting.

Here are some of the key signs of dementia caregiver stress.

  • Denial – Hoping a sure recovery for the dementia patient over time represents a case of denial. If you are not accepting the reality of the situation even after knowing the seriousness of the disorder, you are exhibiting signs of dementia caregiver stress.
  • Anger – Episodes of anger and frustration while caring for a dementia patient clearly indicates that you are stressed and expecting much from the patient than he/she can do at the moment. It can also be a sign of pent-up frustration over the changes experienced because of dementia. Sometimes sadness and a sense of loss of the company of the individual (pre-dementia) can manifest themselves as bouts of anger and frustration.
  • Social Isolation – Being engrossed in the caring of a dementia patient may make you lose sight of your personal and social pursuits. Caring for dementia is a challenging process that demands a lot of time. This can often mean that your own social needs aren’t met. If you feel like you have disconnected from friends and other family members, it is a clear sign that you need to relieve your stress and focus on self-care by reconnecting with friends and family.
  • Worried – Watching your loved ones suffer can be overwhelming, and often, you might find yourself questioning “did I do my best?”. Keep in mind that being worried and stressed is not going to help you or your loved ones in any way, so try to keep your worries at bay. However, overcoming worry can be difficult in itself and if it seems overbearing, reach out to loved ones or seek professional help.
  • Sense of Exhaustion and Restlessness – Caring for a dementia patient requires you to be fiercely attentive at all times. The responsibility of the patient’s overall well-being may leave you completely exhausted. Physical exhaustion and worrying may keep you up late into the night and this is a clear sign that you are stressed.
  • Inadequate Focus – Having troubles in performing familiar tasks and being less focused signal towards caregiver stress.
  • Health Issues – Stress in any form can be quite harmful to your overall well-being and may manifest in the form of multiple primary and secondary health issues. If you are suffering from an unwarranted health issue, be aware that it’s a sign of caregiver stress.

How Do You Deal With the Stress?

To be able to care for the dementia patient, the caregiver must take requisite self-care measures. It is important to note that only when the caregiver is relaxed can they be the caregiver that the person with dementia needs and deserves. On top of the array of responsibilities, caregivers need to be patient, empathetic, and understanding, which can be quite challenging. Here are some of the quirky tips for dealing with stress.

  • Accepting that you are stressed while caring for your loved one with dementia is the first step towards dealing with stress. You can adopt relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga for elevating your mood and energy levels. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help in case of acute stress or depression.
  • Speaking up and sharing your personal experiences can help alleviate your stress levels. You can choose to communicate with a close family member or a friend and seek assistance in any possible manner.
  • You can join a dementia caregiver support group where you can not only share your experiences but also learn from others facing similar challenges.
  • Stay tuned both online and offline for dementia-related updates. This may come in handy when you have to manage versatile caring activities for a dementia patient.

Tips on Caregiving

Dementia caregiving can be quite challenging if you are not aware of the multidimensional attributes of dementia care. Here are some dementia caregiver tips that may help you.

Dementia patients often find it difficult to follow through with conversations or instructions and get overwhelmed easily. It’s best to  communicate with them in an easily-understandable way to avoid adding any stress or confusion.

Brain-enhancing exercises are quite impactful for memory boost as well. Keep your loved one with dementia engaged in creative activities that are both relaxing and entertaining for them. Stay involved in their daily activities – give them tasks, observe their behaviors. Always try to acknowledge, encourage their progress and respond with warmth; this helps the patients achieve reassurance and feel safe, which is vital for them.

Dementia patients feel better in soothing, and calm atmospheres. Keep them in a place complete with bright colors. If possible, play mild and smooth music in the background with a pleasant fragrance. As a caregiver, you can try to evade noisy and clumsy atmospheres for the patients. Make them laugh whenever and wherever possible. Make them feel loved; this will help in boosting their mood and energy levels.  

Caring for a dementia patient is an extensive and exhausting process, and self-care might not be a priority at all times for the caregiver. However, if you are stressed and not in good health, you won’t be able to care for your loved ones optimally. Do watch out for burnout signs, speak up with your near and dear ones, seek professional help whenever necessary. Adopt relaxation techniques such as breathing, meditation, visual therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.

Caregiving for a dementia patient has multiple facets, and traveling is one of them. Traveling with someone with dementia requires extra preparations and precautionary measures to ensure an enjoyable experience. Here are some of the best practices to be followed.

  • Traveling is recommended only when the patient doesn’t have an unstable medical condition, acute aggression, or mood swings.
  • It is strongly advised to evaluate the environment where the person with dementia is traveling. Keep the travel itinerary simple and feasible. Stick to the routine and avoid unwarranted changes in the travel plan.
  • Elderly people tend to get tired quickly. Include plenty of time to rest in the travel itinerary to help them recuperate for the next phase of travel. Try to avoid leaving them alone to keep potential health hazards at bay.
  • Communication is key when you are traveling with someone with dementia. Communicate as per the situation. Sometimes, the patient may prefer a slow and soothing talk, while at other times, they might not prefer the extra attention or indulgence.
  • Watch out for the facial features, body language, and other cues that may indicate an impending challenge. Be patient and be prepared to deal with any unforeseen scenario that may unfold.

Why Cadabams?

Cadabam’s, the pioneers of behavioral health services in India, have over 28 years of experience in treating mental disorders. We follow an evidence-based and solution-oriented treatment process. Our multispeciality team of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and physicians work round the clock to treat dementia in a holistic way. Our customised treatment plans that address the needs of the family and the patient are armed with state-of-the-art infrastructure, residential facilities, and strong community support.

Dementia can be hard to treat, not only because it is hard to diagnose but also because dementia care has to cater to different needs – of both the patient and the caregiver. At Cadabams, we care for you. For more details, reach out to us on our 24X7 dementia helpline @ +91 9741476476, or mail us at info@cadabams.org.

Disclaimer – In case you or a loved are struggling with dementia or you are caring for one, do share your unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us at info@cadabams.org