Previously, we mentioned some of the signs of burnout commonly seen in those caring for dementia patients. A short recap of this list would include frustration, denial, worry, fear, hopelessness, social withdrawal, sleeplessness, fatigue, negativity, and health problems. If you or a caregiver you know can relate to several of the symptoms on this list, it’s likely that caregiver burnout is beginning to set in. Once you recognize burnout, it’s important to learn strategies that can help you cope with this difficult problem. Listed below are some helpful tips that can give you the tools you need to overcome the stress associated with caring for a dementia patient.
1. Avail Yourself of Community Resources
Many caregivers are completely unaware of the programs communities have in place to help them and their loved one with dementia during this difficult season of life. Depending on the community you live in, you may be able to take advantage of respite programs, adult day care, in-home help, meal preparation, and visiting nursing care providers.
To find out more about the different programs that are available in your area, you can check online at helpful websites such as Dementia Friendly America. You can also speak to the patient’s health care provider or your own doctor to find out more helpful information about assistance programs that may be available in your area.
2. Locate a Support Group for Yourself
Besides finding people to come alongside you and help care for the patient, you may need an understanding group of people to talk to about your caregiving-associated fears and frustrations. There could be just such a support group in your local area. The patient’s physician or a local dementia care facility would probably be able to point you in the right direction. These groups meet on a regular basis to allow caregivers an outlet among people who are going through the same types of struggles they’re facing and may be better equipped to provide an understanding, non-judgmental listening ear.
3. Learn Helpful Methods to Relax
These would include restful breathing techniques, taking time for rest and reflection, imagining yourself in a peaceful setting, and learning how to tense and then relax your muscles, beginning from your feet all the way up to your head. These types of simple relaxation techniques can truly work wonders during those moments of intense stress.
4. Engage in Regular Physical Exercise
Even if you think you just don’t have time for exercise, it could drastically reduce your stress level and improve your overall health and mood if you try to stay active every day. Whether it’s walking, jogging, dancing, or some other enjoyable activity, you owe it to yourself to spend time moving in order to clear your mind and keep up your energy.
Dealing with the ups and downs of caring for someone with dementia can certainly take a physical and mental toll on you as a caregiver. Some days you may feel like you have the patient’s needs under control and you’re staying on top of everything pretty well. Other days you may feel like you’re barely able to hold yourself together. All these feelings are normal, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over them. If you’re feeling stressed as a caregiver, try implementing these helpful tips, and make sure to seek medical help if your burnout symptoms are ongoing or severe. In our next article, we’ll take a look at some more ways you can cope with caregiver burnout.