Warning Signs That An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Needs a Break
Whether you are providing Alzheimer’s care for your parent or loved one, or another friend or family member is taking on this responsibility—Alzheimer’s caregivers are often under a great deal of stress. This is one of the most demanding and stressful jobs out there and since most Alzheimer’s caregivers are also looking after a family member, there is an extra layer of emotional investment that can make it even more overwhelming.
This is why so many Alzheimer’s caregivers suffer from caregiver burnout. This is a serious condition that can lead to emotional turmoil, stress, insomnia and even physical side effects. Alzheimer’s caregivers need to be able to take care of themselves as well. This is why you should be on the lookout for the different warning signs that you or any Alzheimer’s caregiver in your life needs a break, before you head straight for burnout.
- A short fuse. If you are all of a sudden losing your temper easily or getting more agitated towards you parent you may be under caregiver stress. If you are constantly feeling irritable toward other family members, then it may be time for a break.
- Sleep issues. If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or are constantly worried about your loved one all through the night so you can’t sleep, you may need a reprieve.
- Extreme fatigue or lethargy. If it is becoming difficult to get motivated to accomplish things, hard to concentrate or if you are feeling sluggish after a good night’s rest, or just feel “off” this is an early warning sign of a problem and an indicator that you need help.
- Emotional outburst. Depression is a serious issue for many Alzheimer’s caregivers and is something to be on the lookout for. Crying for no reason, experiencing dramatic mood swings, having emotional outbursts or feelings of despair are all signs that you are overwhelmed and may be at risk for depression.
- Weight loss or weight gain. If you are experiencing significant weight loss or weight gain for no apparent reason, then it may be a sign that your body is reacting to stress overload. If your weight has changed by more than 5-10 pounds, you need help.
- Changes in your health. If you are experiencing physical side effects from the stress you are under, this is not a good sign for your caregiver stress. Physical side effects can include headaches, back pain, neck aches, cold symptoms, muscle aches or developing high blood pressure.
Keep these warning signs in mind so you can help yourself or help another Alzheimer’s caregiver in your life get the rest that they need and deserve. After all a happy, healthy and well-rested caregiver is a better caregiver for their loved one.
- Rena is the author of The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver. As a caretaker to her mother who suffered from Alzheimer's and her subsequent advocacy, she understands fully the challenges faced by caregivers of seniors with dementia and brings a unique perspective of the subject. She has been featured on Huffington Post and other major publications.
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