Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, diminishing memory, and cognitive functions. It is most commonly found in elderly populations, and it is estimated that more than 5 million Americans are currently living with the disease. When an elderly adult is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, they usually need a family caregiver to help them accomplish even the most basic daily tasks. Family caregivers can face a lot of stress when caring for an aging relative to Alzheimer’s disease.
During National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, many organizations shine the spotlight on the disease and how it affects people, from diagnosis to treatment to caregiving. One of the topics worth looking at is the millions of family caregivers that assist elderly adults in living with Alzheimer’s disease. Caregiver stress is a real problem that needs attention so that caregivers can achieve better mental and physical health.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 15 million Americans provide caregiving services to an elderly person with the disease. This translates into more than 18 billion hours of care at an estimated value of $230 billion annually. While many family caregivers help out their elderly relatives, those who help people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are more likely to suffer from health issues, both physically and mentally.
The majority of family caregivers are women and most of them are also caring for their own families and working. Adding elderly care into the mix can create an imbalance of duties, where the family caregiver takes on too much alone, doesn’t develop a support network and ends up ignoring themselves and their needs in favor of everyone else. Part of National Alzheimer’s Disease Month is to make sure that caregivers have access to the resources they need to minimize their stress and develop coping skills on how to avoid burning out.
Symptoms to look out for…
Some of the common symptoms of caregiver stress include fatigue and exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and irritability. The responsibilities of the day are too many to complete and the caregiver doesn’t have time for activities with family or friends that help refresh their minds and bodies. Caregivers may turn to food, alcohol and even drugs to cope with the stress. It’s quite common for family caregivers of elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease to suffer their own health issues as well.
Where to start for resources?
The good news is that there are plenty of resources to support family caregivers when they are starting to feel stressed. A doctor is a good place to start so caregivers can focus on their health and wellness. There are also lots of community resources available to help share the caregiving duties. Examples include community senior services like meal delivery and adult day care programs, as well as hiring home care aides. Connecting with all the available resources is part of National Alzheimer’s Disease Month and empowering family caregivers to get the help they need.
Caring for an elderly relative brings many rewards as well as many frustrations. When the senior is also facing Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving duties can become even more difficult. Family caregivers should definitely find the support they need to take the best care of themselves as well as their loved ones.
If you or a senior family member are considering home care services in Glen Rock, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today (973) 427-3553.
I started my career as an ICU nurse over 30 years ago. I have functioned as an educator and preceptor mentoring new nurses in the clinical arena. I have sat on many Patient Care committees authoring a variety of patient care protocols.
In 2007, I saw an opportunity to improve the delivery of patient care services in the home and founded Caring Solutions Home Care. Over the last 10 years I have functioned as the Director of Nursing overseeing all client care, administrative and personnel operations.