Alzheimer's Care Resources
Warning Signs & Advice for Caregiver Burnout
April 22, 2015
Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Because caregivers also juggle other responsibilities, such as raising children and working outside the home, it often feels as if there are never enough hours in the day. Stress and anxiety become a daily part of the caregiver’s life. Knowing how to recognize the signs that indicate caregiving is getting to be too much and to find healthy ways to manage stress are both key to avoiding burnout.
Learning How to Spot the Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Many people believe they know the warning signs of stress, but not all of the symptoms are obvious. While most people recognize that headaches, agitation and difficulty concentrating can be caused by anxiety, there are other symptoms of stress and anxiety that caregivers need to be aware of.
- Grinding teeth
- Frequent colds
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Stomach pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Dry mouth
- Problems sleeping
The Alzheimer’s Association developed the Caregiver Stress Check to help adult children and family caregivers objectively evaluate their level of stress.
5 Tips for Reducing Caregiving Anxiety
If those symptoms sound all too familiar, here are five tips that may help:
- Ask for Help: We start with this because it is often difficult for caregivers to do. Many adult children are reluctant or even unwilling to allow others –friends, family or professional caregivers – to help. They aren’t able to see that accepting support is the only way they will be able to provide the care a senior with Alzheimer’s needs over the long term. And we know the survival rate with Alzheimer’s disease can vary from four years to up to twenty years. If you don’t have friends or family nearby who can pitch in and help, consider utilizing respite care in an assisted living community.
- Journaling: Worry often keeps caregivers up at night. Keeping a daily journal may help you better understand the underlying concerns. When you see your worries in writing, you may be able to recognize how unrealistic your expectations for yourself are or find the clarity that allows you to come up with a solution.
- Learn to Breathe: Proper breathing techniques help to alleviate anxiety and stress because deep breathing calms the nervous system. Chair yoga, meditation and Pilates are all forms of exercise that teach people how to breathe better. Each of these can be performed in the privacy of a caregiver’s home.
- Good Nutrition: When you aren’t eating right, it can leave you feeling tired and rundown. Both make caregiving challenges more difficult. A well-balanced diet helps keep you feeling mentally and physically fit while also promoting quality sleep.
- Exercise: While it may seem tough to do when your day is already packed, making time for exercise is important. You can break it down in to three ten-minute or two fifteen-minute workouts to make it easier. Research shows you will receive the same health benefits as you would by exercising for thirty continuous minutes.
To learn more about respite care, please call or visit the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you.