Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease can be more stressful than caring for people with other serious diseases.
That's because people with Alzheimer's disease often need care for decades, rather than a few months or years, says Mary Guerriero Austrom, PhD, an expert on caregivers and Alzheimer's disease at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
There are about 10 million people in the U.S. -- mostly women – who have chosen to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a grueling job in itself, but many aren’t only caregiving. They’re also raising kids of their own -- and maybe working – at the same time.
“You’re already a parent to your children, and then suddenly you have to become a caregiver to your parent,” says Donna Schempp, LCSW, program director at the Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco. “It’s very hard to...
If you think you're getting burned out, talk to a doctor, Austrom says. Your own doctor may be able to help, and so may the doctor who treats the person for whom you're acting as a caregiver.
Go Easy on Your Loved One and Yourself
Resist the urge to correct your loved one's behaviors or word choices, says Marsha Lewis, PhD. Lewis is dean of the School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo.
Try not to argue with people with Alzheimer's, even when you know their point of view isn't correct. Trying to be "right" takes time and adds needless stress to your life.
Also, don't try to be the perfect caregiver.
"Most healthy older adults, when asked about their preferences for care if they can no longer care for themselves, say 'I wouldn't want to be a burden on my children,'" Austrom says. Your parent, spouse, or other loved one likely wouldn't want you to wear yourself out. Know your limits and try not to push past them.