Caregivers are the unsung heroes in this challenging world of dementia. The disorder may not have happened to them, but the journey is certainly shared.
It can be overwhelming to take care of a loved one who is ageing and the challenges are even harder if they are suffering from problems related to ageing. All of this might expose the caregivers to unwanted stress. Providing this type of care can be physically and mentally exhausting and caregivers are often surprised at the amount of stress they experience.
Symptoms of caregiver stress:
Sleeplessness caused by a list of never-ending concerns. “What if she wanders off and gets hurt?”, “What if he doesn’t remember me tomorrow?” These are some of the concerns that can negatively impact your sleep.
Anxiety about the future and new challenges that may come. Anticipatory thoughts and uncertainty regarding the treatment and financial issues can trigger anxiety. “What happens when he/she needs more care than I can provide him/her with?”, “How do I meet with the treatment costs?”
Depression that leads to mood changes and loss of interest. It can lead to reduced motivation and affect your ability to cope and break your spirit. “I don’t care anymore!”
Exhaustion that makes it difficult to complete necessary daily tasks. Sometimes, the responsibility and feeling of exhaustion can be so overwhelming, that caregivers feel burned out. “I am too tired for this.”
Irritability that stems from the constant emotional and physical stress that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. “Just leave me alone!”
Lack of concentration leading to reduced self-care and pre-occupation. “I was so busy taking care of him that I forgot to call my boss”
Anger, generally towards the people suffering from dementia. Frustrated behaviour towards the person that he or she can’t do the things that they used to. For example, “She knows how to bath, she is just being stubborn.”
Social withdrawal resulting in feelings of isolation and loneliness can be caused by a withdrawal from previous habits and lifestyle. “I don’t feel like going to the park with my friend anymore.”
Health issues that take on a physical and mental well-being. “I don’t remember when was the last time I felt good.”
If you experience any of these signs of stress, make time to see a specialist. Making sure that you are healthy will help you in ways that will make you a better caregiver. Visiting the doctor regularly, eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest are some of the strategies that can help manage caregivers stress better.
Authorship: Akshay Dixit, Community Outreach Coordinator at Synapsium.