The Signs of Caregiver Stress

Did you know that about 1 in 3 adults in the United States provide care to seniors? According to the Mayo Clinic, this is the case, with more and more care being provided by those who are not healthcare professionals.

While caring for a family member can be rewarding, it can come with a rise in anxiety, depression, exhaustion and frustration – all of which can lead to caregiver stress and burnout if not managed properly.

If you are caring for a loved one living with dementia or memory loss, it’s important to know who is at risk for caregiver burnout and stress, what the signs and symptoms may include, and what resources are available to help support you.

Who is most at risk for caregiver stress?

According to the Mayo Clinic, those most vulnerable to caregiver stress and burnout are those who:

  • Are female
  • Have less formal education
  • Are socially isolated
  • Have depression
  • Spend a higher number of hours caregiving
  • Live with the person they care for
  • Lack coping skills and problem-solving abilities
  • Have financial difficulties
  • Had little choice in being a caregiver

Aside from this, caregiver stress and burnout can be even more prevalent in caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as studies show they may provide up to three times the total hours of care than those caring for a person without dementia.

How do I know if I’m dealing with caregiver stress?

While the signs and symptoms vary from person to person, caregivers dealing with caregiver stress may find that their health and well-being are suffering. This can be for a number of reasons. If you think you may be dealing with caregiver stress, assess whether or not you’re showing signs of any of the following symptoms.

  • Feeling as though you have a lack of control
  • Frustration because of few resources and skills
  • Denial of your loved one’s disease
  • Trouble keeping up with unreasonable demands and burdens
  • Putting your needs on the bottom of your to-do list
  • Lack of sleep and changes in sleeping patterns
  • Poor diet and exercise, changes in appetite and weight
  • Less socialization and withdrawing from things and people you love
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Quickness to anger
  • Lack of concentration
  • Getting sick more often, or dealing with more frequent headaches and ailments

Ways to Cope with Caregiver Stress

The demands of caring for someone with memory loss can take a large toll on your mind and body, so it’s important to find ways to manage this stress, not only to prevent burnout, but to ensure your health and happiness.

Whether your loved one is in the early stages of their disease or needs a higher level of care, it’s important to face caregiver stress head-on. When you begin to notice the signs of caregiver stress, take action with these tips.

Create a care plan that supports your loved one and yourself

Caring for a loved one with memory loss isn’t a job you should take on entirely by yourself. In fact, you should create an entire support system to ensure both you and your loved one are adequately supported and cared for. This can be done through:

  • Talking to family members and delegating tasks, if possible
  • Accepting help when it’s offered
  • Hiring outside resources to provide meals
  • Considering respite care at a memory care facility if needed
  • Joining a support group led by experts, such as those provided by Bridges® by EPOCH

Make a plan to care for yourself

Not only does caring for yourself provide a boost in mood and self-esteem, but it also helps to keep you healthy. Try some of these ideas to keep yourself at your best while managing caregiver stress.

  • Visit your doctor regularly
  • Find time to be physically active
  • Manage your risk of heart disease and other ailments by eating healthier
  • Take time to do some of the things you love
  • Talk to friends and family
  • Reach out to a mental health provider if you’re unable to cope on your own

Try new coping strategies

Because what works for you may be different from what works for others, it’s a good idea to try a range of coping strategies.

  • When overwhelmed, step away to collect your thoughts
  • Count to 10 or take deep breaths to calm your mind
  • Visualize your favorite place to relax and relieve stress
  • Create a positive phrase you can repeat to yourself
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings
  • Set your own goals and say no to anything you can’t handle

Consider memory care services or dementia care at an assisted living community

If your loved one’s needs are beginning to be more than you can handle, dedicated  memory care residences can help. Unlike at nursing homes, seniors living in a memory care community enjoy specialized care in a purpose-built environment, designed around their needs. With enriching programs, care available when needed, and a more secure environment, you can live with more peace of mind while focusing on simply being family again.

Here to Support You

At Bridges® by EPOCH, we want you to know you’re not alone. From support groups and educational events to community resources and specialized care from a specially trained team, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a visit or speak to a member of our team.

Enhancing Quality of Life

Bridges® by EPOCH memory care communities have been developed from the ground up to anticipate, meet and exceed the needs of our residents and their families. Our team of remarkable people, the exceptional care and services we offer, and the purposeful design of our buildings all combine to create the most rewarding, secure and nurturing lifestyle possible for our residents.

Bridges® communities are located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in the following towns: Norwalk, CT; Stamford, CT; Trumbull, CT; Andover, MA; Hingham, MA; Lexington, MA; Mashpee, MA; Pembroke, MA; Sudbury, MA; Westford, MA; Westwood, MA; and Nashua, NH.