You might have spent your entire life taking care of others, being the “strong one,” and maybe you generally see yourself as a resilient, self-sufficient, and resourceful person able to tackle anything that comes your way.
But no matter how strong you are, the daily care of a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. Watching them deteriorate, having to make tough decisions, worrying about getting it all right...it’s a lot. It’s exhausting.
Because you love them, you’re probably pushing yourself to your limit, but how do you know when you’ve gone too far? When it’s time for you to take a break? For you to recharge and refill your cup? Here are some things to look out for:
Ten Signs of Caregiver Stress
Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. "I know Mom is going to get better."
Anger at the person with Alzheimer's, anger that no cure exists, or anger that people don't understand what's happening. "If he asks me that one more time I'll scream!"
Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. "I don't care about getting together with the neighbors anymore."
Anxiety about the future. "What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?"
Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. "I don't care anymore."
Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. "I'm too tired for this."
Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. "What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?"
Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. "Leave me alone!"
Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. "I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment."
Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll. "I can't remember the last time I felt good."
Source: Alzheimer's Association
If any of these signs are sounding a bit too familiar, the stress of caregiving might be taking a heavier toll than you’ve realized. The best thing you can do for yourself AND your loved one is to take some time to take care of yourself too, so that you can continue to give care without being completely drained to empty, all the way to burnout.
Maybe at this point even the idea of finding time to take care of yourself seems out of reach...which really just signals that this is exactly what you need to do. If it’s feeling impossible, or you’re simply ready to get some support, I would love to talk with you about ways you can reduce your stress, fill your cup, and not only survive but thrive in this caregiving journey. You can contact me for a free consultation.
Stay tuned for future posts on cutting back on stress and injecting more self-care into your life.
Take good care!