Caregiver Stress and Dementia Treatment

Caregiver Stress is associated with dementia treatment. Let’s discuss the important role of the caregiver in the treatment of the person with dementia and other forms of memory loss.

Dementia is a memory loss disease that results in loss of independent functioning and substantial caregiver stress.

While caregivers involve paraprofessionals and professionals, caregiving falls to a significant degree on the family of the person with dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, most of the care for persons with dementia falls on the family, mostly on a spouse and sometimes siblings. Dementia treatment and care-giving and be exhausting. Thus, the term “caregiver stress” has emerged.

In fact, 80% of the in-home care (which may also include dementia treatment) of the person with Alzheimer’s Disease is provided to by family members.

According to the National Alliance for Care-giving, 10.9 million family members and friends provided unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss and significant cognitive dysfunction.

According to a recent study by Ghatak (2011) on a possible support model for dementia patients and caregivers, three important process goals are needed.

First, it is important to do a thorough assessment of the problem areas which need support.

Second, there is management of those interventions that were selected via family meetings and also home visits by those paraprofessional and professional staff. These visits provide support and provide technical expertise as needed.

Third, the caregivers are provided with linkages to resources and services in the community to help accomplish the developed plans and methods.

What are the services that families might seek from a dementia support program?

A. Review of medical and neuropsychological reports to provide clarity and understanding.

B. Social service consultation with an detailed review of activities of daily living, specific areas of functioning, difficult behaviors, supports identified as needed by caregivers, legal planning, financial plans, etc.

C. Assisting the family with linkages to other community supports can be critical. These might include respite care, support groups for caregivers, day programs, meal services, other medical or legal experts, etc.

D. Helping to establish regular family meetings to discuss division of labor, methods of care, stress relief, etc.

E. Open discussions about home safety, home cleanliness, hygiene, and other issues relevant to care.

Caregiving for the person with significant memory loss from brain diseases or injury, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is complex. By following some of the guidelines noted above and reaching out to the community; the burden of caregiving can be lessened.


Short and Simple Steps to Relieve Stress

Family Caregivers must take a few minutes to remember that they can help themselves better manage any situation by slowing down and taking the time to take a few deep breaths so that they are able to respond to the needs of the person they are caring for rather than react to the stress of the situation.

Take a short breathing exercise to manage the stressful situations that arise in caregiving:

1. Close or partially close your eyes and sit with both feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds- 3 to 4 seconds should be long enough- and then slowly exhale.

2. Continue to take deep breaths and exhale slowly as you repeat a calming word or short phrase to yourself. It could be as simple as the word “relax”, or it could be a short phrase that reminds you of a value you hold, such as “I’m grateful”. Try to keep your word or phrase short and meaningful to you.

3. As you continue to take deep breaths and say your calming word or phrase to yourself, let your body go limp. Relax your face, your neck and shoulders, your arms and torso. Let go of any tension in your legs and feet. (Remain silent for a minute.)

4. When you’re ready, open your eyes and remember that you can take a little break like this any time you need to. Also remember that it’s good to take a little break like this at least once a day.

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