How Are You Coping With Caregiver Stress?
Although we love and care for someone with Alzheimer's, it would be foolish not to recognize that it is difficult and stressful. Finding ways to cope with your stress is important for your health and peace of mind.
A certain amount of stress is essential but we have to balance, as much as we are able, the patterns of our lives with stress levels that are conducive to our wellbeing. But first, you have to recognise the symptoms and that can be problematic.
Step One: Recognize Your Symptoms!
Physical symptoms of stress can include;
Headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, muscular tightness/tension,
Shaking or trembling
Some symptoms may resemble signs of disease. For example, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, rapid heart-beat or palpitations, chest pains, severe/prolonged/frequent headaches and high blood pressure. These are the types of symptoms that need to be investigated by your doctor to make sure that stress is the cause rather than an underlying disease or condition. Once you have done that you can get back to looking at stress reduction techniques and strategies.
Look at Your Behavior!
Consider whether you exhibit any of the following:
Short temper, intolerance, tears and tantrums.
Sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep).
Are you displaying symptoms of stress? Do you recognise the symptoms? Do you need to do something about it? Then proceed to Step Two:
How You Can Reduce Stress
Try out some of these techniques to reduce your stress levels;
More information on How can caregivers cope?
Use (and analyse) feedback from loved ones on your stress behaviors
Listening to the wisdom of others can be difficult. I found it very hard when my father was so ill, confused and distressed, to absorb the messages others were giving me. On reflection, I was so caught up in the situation. At times I found it very difficult to hear the message and change my reactions and behaviors. It is not easy to see and cope with the changes you see in a loved one. I tried to keep all the balls of my life up in the air-looking after my father/ paying attention to my husband and daughter/work/training for a marathon/cleaning etc. etc. Its not that you cannot do all that, it's the intensity and realising that some things have to change. Your standards, routines, your levels of physical and emotional endurance need to be readjusted as the disease of your loved one progresses.
Deal with your stress better then you, and the person you give care to, will feel the benefits.