Taking care of someone with dementia – or other older adult disease or frailty, requires time and energy. It can be a demanding and stressful task. Knowing and recognizing the signs of stress in yourself or someone you care about is the first step toward taking action.
If the following symptoms occur on a regular basis, call your doctor, ask your family or support network for help, or look at putting some respite into place for yourself:
Denial…about the disease and its effect on the person with the disease.
“Everyone is overreacting. I know Mom will get better.”
Anger…at the person with Alzheimer’s disease, yourself and others.
“If he asks me that question once more I will scream!”
Withdrawing socially…you no longer want to stay in touch with friends or participate in activities you once enjoyed.
“I don’t care about getting together with friends anymore.”
Anxiety…about facing another day and what the future holds.
“I’m worried about what will happen when I can no longer provide care.”
Depression…you feel sad and hopeless much of the time.
“I don’t care anymore. What is wrong with me?”
Exhaustion…you barely have the energy to complete your daily tasks.
“I don’t have the energy to do anything anymore.”
Sleeplessness…you wake up in the middle of the night or have nightmares and stressful dreams.
“I rarely sleep through the night, and don’t feel refreshed in the morning.”
Emotional reactions…you cry at minor upsets; you are often irritable.
“I cried when there was no milk for my coffee this morning. Then I yelled at my son.”
Lack of concentration…you have trouble focusing and you find it difficult to complete complex tasks.
“I used to do the daily crossword. Now I am lucky if I can solve half of it.”
Health problems…you may lose or gain weight, get sick more often (colds, flu), or develop chronic health problems (backaches, high blood pressure).
“Since the spring, I have had either a cold or the flu. I just can’t seem to shake them.”
Perth Enrichment Program offers therapeutic day programs for older adults, designed to provide daytime respite for caregivers.