As dementia caregivers, you have a lot of responsibility. You’re not just managing yourself, your work, and your social life; you’re also in charge of another person. Dementia patients can be exceedingly difficult to take care of. As a result of this, many dementia caregivers experience stress and anxiety. While some may be able to handle this stress, some would just give up. This leads to physical and mental conditions.
This is why it is important for dementia caregivers to have and build stress resilience. The American Institute of Psychology refers to stress resilience as the ability to adapt well in the face of stress, trauma, or adversity. This becomes vital for dementia caregivers as the nature of their job is inherently stressful. Resilience allows you to bounce back, accept the situation, and regain control of your life.
Here are the top 5 ways of building stress resilience for caregivers.
1. Accept Your Role
Resilience does not mean you won’t face challenges in life. Instead, it is the very act of adapting to the circumstances to make the best of the current situation. This is where acceptance comes in. 63% of caregivers adopted the role because they wanted to care for a loved one. However, many caregivers don’t choose to take on this role voluntarily.
They may have been forced to do so as the sole family member of a dementia patient. Whatever landed you in the circumstances, it’s now time to accept your role as a caregiver. You can see the silver lining-you get to be with your loved ones as they age!
When we resist change, we tend to get more worked up. This starts affecting our mental health more so than usual. This is why the first step to stress resilience is acceptance. When you accept this responsibility, you will find that your coping skills will drastically improve as well.
2. Go Easy On Yourself
When you’re a caregiver, it’s easy to get immersed in the role completely. You become so focused on caring for someone else that you forget to take care of yourself. Caregivers often experience a range of emotions, and one of these is termed caregiver guilt. Caregivers tend to push themselves too hard out of this guilt. However, this does not benefit anyone. Humans are not elastic bands. If you stretch them and their limits beyond a point, they will collapse!
This is why it is important that dementia caregivers go easy on themselves. This won’t happen overnight. You need to make a conscious effort to understand that you are only human. You are doing your best, and that’s all that matters. There may be some bad days, but this doesn’t mean you’re lacking or insufficient.
3. Make and Maintain Connections
When your schedule is occupied by caregiver duties, your social life does tend to suffer. You might have less time to talk to your friends, which can easily deteriorate your mental health. Friends and other connections are a way for us to relax, unwind and manage stress. Moreover, when you’re constantly talking and thinking about the patient you’re taking care of, you get absolutely no reprieve. This will not build resilience but might even prove counterproductive. This is why it is crucial for caregivers to maintain their connections.
Whenever you get time off, even if it’s just 15 minutes, you should talk to a friend. This will take your mind off your caregiver duties. Everyone needs a break! Some time off will help you bounce back and be more ready than ever to resume your role as a caregiver.
4. Delegate Tasks
As caregivers, you have a lot on your plate. This is why you tend to experience burnout. In fact, research shows that 40% of caregivers feel emotionally stressed. This can naturally take a toll on your physical health too. One antithesis of stress resilience is thinking it means handling whatever comes your way. However, that is not the case. To be able to adapt to stressful situations, you need to delegate tasks and relieve some of the extra stress.
To do this, you just need to get a bit organized. Start off by listing down the most important tasks that you need to perform. Is it paying your bill? Is it picking up the laundry? Whenever you can, you should seek help and ask others to run these errands for you. This will help you concentrate on your role as a caregiver. When you feel you’re unable to handle the small things, you feel frustrated. When the other things are taken care of, you feel calmer and in control. This helps build resilience, which is basically adapting to any situation.
5. Learn to React Less
As a dementia caregiver, you tend to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Most of these emotions are related to the changes in your patient’s behavior and moods. Dementia is a condition where a person’s memory becomes progressively worse. With this, they exhibit more nuanced emotions and behaviors. Some dementia patients start displaying anger, while others may even experience hallucinations. This can all affect a dementia caregiver.
You should be aware of what’s best for dementia patients, but you need to learn to react less to every little change. This is an important step in building stress resilience or you’ll drive yourself mad. Understand that not everything requires a reaction, as long as they are healthy. Don’t question yourself at everything they do. For example, if they are anxious one day, it doesn’t necessarily mean they did something wrong. Learn to let things flow and you’ll be able to cope better.
Dementia caregivers need support and love just as much as their patients do. When you are in charge of a person with a cognitive disability, you can easily experience burnout. To prevent this, you need to build stress resilience. This guide talks about some of the ways you can improve your adaptability and acceptance of the situation. Once you do that, you’ll find yourself in a much better state to handle the challenges in the role of a caregiver.
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.