Stress-busting Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Stress-busting Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers

To take care of a loved one, it helps to take care of your self.

Staying healthy yourself is vital when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.  It's easy to lose sight of your own needs. But, if you're healthy; you'll be better able to give your time and energy to caring for your loved one.  Learning to cope effectively with the stress of care giving is key.

Kristy Ramirez, RN, Coordinator of the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Geriatric Partial Hospitalization program says many Alzheimer's caregivers experience high levels of stress.

"You may feel a wide range of emotions as you face the challenges of care giving," Ramirez states.  "If you start to experience anger, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, exhaustion, irritability, social withdrawals, or unusual health problems on a regular basis, consult your doctor."

Ramirez also suggests these tips for reducing caregiver stress:

  • Learn about resources in the community.
  • Seek further information about care giving for those with Alzheimer's
  • Take on only the tasks you can accomplish
  • Ask for help from family, friends and community resources.
  • Take time for exercise, sleep and a healthy diet.
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or stretching.
  • Take care of legal and financial planning early once you learn a loved one has Alzheimer's.
  • Accept changes.
  • Give yourself a break if you feel overwhelmed.

"Alzheimer's can change your life and the life of your loved one significantly.  Grief is a common result of care giving," Ramirez says. "You may feel angry or frustrated with your loved one, or feel like you could have done things differently before the disease occurred."

Some people may feel guilty that they still get to enjoy life when their loved one is unable to.

Try following these action steps:

  • Accept your feelings of guilt as a normal part of loss.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Share your feelings with a friend or find a support group.
  • Learn to accept and celebrate the good things in your life.

For more information about this topic or to learn more about the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Geriatric Partial Hospitalization Program, which specializes in the care of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease, call (337) 430-3492. .

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