Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress

by Nancy Wurtzel on June 30, 2015

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Many caregivers fall into the trap of believing they have to do everything by themselves. This can be a recipe for diaster.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care-give for someone else.

Juggling a Job and Caregiving Duties

Two-thirds of caregivers work outside of the home. Juggling work responsibilities and caregiving can be an overwhelming experience.  If you’re in this situation, try these tips for balancing your work and personal responsibilities:

  • Learn to Delegate. Share your work responsibilities with others.
  • Ask About Company Resources. Ask your company’s human resources department about resources, such as support lines or referral services. Then make use of these assistance programs.
  • Talk With Others. Keep an open line of communication with your supervisor and co-workers.
  • Enlist Doctor’s Help. Ask your loved one’s doctor to send a letter to your company explaining the seriousness of your loved one’s condition.

Maintain Your Own Good Health While Caregiving

Even if you don’t have a job in addition to your care giving duties, you do have a life.  That life may include a spouse, children, grandchildren and others.  How to you juggle the caregiver duties and still have lead your own life?  Here are some tips for caregivers:

  • Accept Help. Be prepared with a list of ways that oth­ers can help you and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be happy to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries for you.
  • Avoid Guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect, and no one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don’t have to feel guilty about asking for help.
  • Get Informed. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association offer classes on care giving, and local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.
  • Join a Support Group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.
  • Stay Connected. Make an effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it’s just a walk with a friend. Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house.
  • Commit Your Own Good Health. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, and don’t neglect your need for a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet.
  • See Your Doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.

Look for Local Caregiver Resources for Support

Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer's can be very stressful.

If you’re like many caregivers, asking for help is not always easy.  But rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources. To get started, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn about services in your community. You can find your local AAA online or in the government section of your telephone directory or search online.

Reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.  Go to this link to find the one that is closest to you.

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most capable person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of every available support.

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