Posts Tagged caregiver stress

Join a Support Group

Have you ever thought about attending a support group but were reluctant to give it a try?

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Support groups are a safe place to share feelings and experiences, and many people find them to be invaluable resources.

A support group is a place to:

  • Exchange practical information on caregiving problems and possible solutions
  • Talk through challenges and ways of coping
  • Share feelings, needs and concerns
  • Learn about resources available in your community

All of our support groups are facilitated by trained individuals. In addition to caregiver support groups, we also have support groups designed specifically for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. We are currently offering early stage support groups in Birmingham and Taylor (and soon, in Sterling Heights too!). To learn more or to register, please dial our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

Want to find a Alzheimer’s Association support group near you? Click here. Prefer to get support online? Join AlzConnected, our online community.

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The Ramifications of Caregiver Stress

More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. 505,000 of them reside in Michigan. In 2013, millions of caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at more than $220 billion.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) caregivers care longer, on average, than those caring for someone without AD. Caregiver stress is known to increase the longer one provides care, making this population particularly susceptible to burnout, depression and other poor outcomes. Caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease are often providing assistance to the person before they even receive a formal diagnosis – making the length of caregiving even greater.

 

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Caregiving for someone with AD can involve multiple types of care, sometimes requiring the acquisition of new knowledge and skills (e.g. how to feed someone), significant time commitments, emotional and psychological stress (e.g. making major decisions), etc.

Clearly, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia poses special challenges. For example, the person with AD experiences losses in judgment, orientation, and the ability to understand and communicate effectively. Family caregivers must often help people with AD manage these issues. The personality and behavior of a person with AD are affected as well, and these changes are often among the most challenging for family caregivers. It is not surprising that many areas of the caregiver’s life may be deleteriously affected.

Mental Health

  • 39% of caregivers of people with dementia suffer from depressions compared with 17% of non-caregivers.
  • Increased incidence of anxiety

Physical Health

  • Higher levels of stress hormones
  • Reduced immune function
  • Slower wound healing
  • Increased incidence of hypertension
  • Increased incidence of coronary heart disease
  • Elevated biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Trouble sleeping

Financial

  • 56% of family caregivers report “a good amount” to “a great deal” of caregiving strain concerning financial issues
  • Poor outcomes at the workplace

Professional Outcomes

 

Want to combat caregiver stress? Review the tips listed below:

1. Get a diagnosis as early as possible. Consult a geriatric physician when you see signs of memory loss or personality changes. Don’t delay! Some of the illnesses causing memory loss or personality changes are treatable.

2. Know what resources are available. Your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter can help you find adult day programs, respite care, visiting nurses, meals on wheels, physicians and more.

3. Become an educated caregiver. Learn about the disease. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills are required. Read, research, and learn new skills. Learn about resources that are available. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that sometimes accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Get help! Caregiving is a job, and just like any other job, you can’t do it 24/7. Ask for help early and often. Seek the support of family, friends, and community resources. Help can come from paid caregivers, family or friends.

5. Take care of yourself! Watch your diet, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Make time for yourself. Manage stress as it occurs.

 

 

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