Caregiving is a noble job. At the same time, it can also be extremely stressful. When you are providing support for others, you tend to forget to take care of your own needs. Caregivers can experience physical and emotional stress, which can take a toll on them.
Dementia caregivers have to deal with patients who are experiencing confusion and disorientation. They tend to display a wide range of emotions and behaviors, which can be overwhelming to cope with. Research sheds light on how stressful or rewarding dementia caregivers find their job to be.
In the USA alone, a whopping 78% of dementia caregivers said their job is very stressful. At the same time, an even higher percentage termed their job rewarding. While it is rewarding, we need to realize that it is not selfish to take care of ourselves. When you feel good, you will be in a better position to relay the best care to your dementia patients.
Caregiver Stress Syndrome
There is a common termed ‘Caregiver Stress Syndrome.’ It is a phenomenon that causes mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion to caregivers. This is when the caregiver is too engrossed in taking care of others’ needs. As a result, they forget to take care of their own.
Signs of Caregiver Stress:
Around 40% to 70% of caregivers experience repercussions of this syndrome. These include:
The caregiver stress syndrome can also manifest in the form of physical signs if gone unchecked. This includes:
- High blood pressure
- Poor immune system function
- Drastic weight changes
- Diabetes and other stress-related diseases.
Risk Factors for Caregiver Stress:
- Lack of coping techniques
- Long hours of caregiving
- Living with the dementia patient
Stress Management Techniques for Caregivers
The stress that caregivers experience can cause a lot of issues for them. While you are too busy taking care of your patient or loved one, you forget a crucial thing. Your mental or physical health may be declining rapidly, and you need to save yourself.
If you or someone close to you displays symptoms of caregivers stress syndrome, you should get help immediately.
Here are the top 5 stress management techniques for caregivers. They can practice these exercises to improve their condition and provide better care to their patients.
1. Join a Support Group
The good news is, you are not alone in this! There are several dementia caregivers in the world and talking to them will relieve your stress. You will find dementia caregiving support groups that will connect you with people who are going through the same thing. The best part about support groups is that you can participate in meetings right from your home. This way, you don’t have to face any inconvenience or make room in your (most likely) busy schedule.
Studies show that joining a support group will have a positive impact on the caregiver’s mental health. This will improve the quality of your life, and in turn, help you provide better care to your loved ones.
Here are a few dementia caregiving support groups that you can consider:
In a 2018 survey, the highest number of (63%) of caregivers said they pray or meditate to cope with caregiving difficulties. This means there has got to be something there! Meditation is the perfect stress management technique for caregivers for multiple reasons. First of all, it’s free! Secondly, you can do it anywhere, so you won’t have to especially take out time or commute somewhere for this. Lastly, meditation is a proven way to relieve stress and induce calm.
Moreover, meditation not only alleviates stress it also helps you physically. 15-20 minutes of daily meditation can lower blood pressure, bolster the immune system function, and increase overall concentration. Dementia caregivers can easily squeeze this in between their caregiving duties.
Here are a few types of meditation that you can start off with:
- Mindful meditation
- Mantra meditation
3. Listen To Music
The power of music transcends everything! Listening to music is a proven stress management technique. This is especially useful for caregivers because music is often even recommended for seniors with dementia. If you feel too overwhelmed, you can play some relaxing beats. This will even help the dementia patient who you are taking care of.
But remember, this is a stress management technique for you. If your preference is different to your dementia patient’s, then go to another room to enjoy some music therapy. Some of the benefits of listening to music include:
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Reduces anxiety levels
- Improves mood
4. Try Coloring
Coloring is not just an activity for children. In fact, recent research shows that coloring is a real stress management technique for adults! As a result, it is highly recommended for people under stress, like dementia caregivers.
When you are the sole caregiver for someone, it’s natural that you would feel overwhelmed and at times, afraid. It’s okay that you feel that’s too much responsibility. Coloring is able to calm the amygdala, the fear center of the brain. In fact, coloring is able to replicate the effects of meditating. Next time you feel too angry or stressed, take out some colored pencils, and start coloring. It will work wonders!
5. Take Some Alone Time
Often, a caregiver feels such a huge responsibility towards their patient that it feels selfish to even think about themselves. This approach leads to high anxiety and stress levels. But you should think about it this way. You are a person with thoughts and feelings. Caregiving will take a toll on you and bog down your mental and physical health.
This is why you need to take some ‘me’ time. The idea is to get out of the role of the caregiver and embrace your individuality. Do whatever you like-take a bubble bath, go cycling, or enjoy a drink with friends. Just one day off in a week from your caregiving duties will go a long way in managing your stress.
You are a caregiver, but before that, you are a person. If you don’t take care of your physical, mental and emotional health, you will wither away. If you feel signs of caregivers stress, start making changes to your life! Try these 5 proven stress management techniques. They will improve the quality of your life as well as the care you extend to your loved ones.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that!
If you are looking for Memory Care in The Woodlands or Memory Care in Spring, Texas come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help.