28 March 2011

10 signs of caregiver stress

Looking after someone with Alzheimer's can be stressful. Here are 10 signs that you might need a break.


Looking after someone with Alzheimer's disease can be stressful. Look out for these warning signs of caregiver stress and know when to seek help.

1. Denial about the disease and its effects on the person who has been diagnosed. "I just know mum’s going to get better."

2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s or others because no effective treatments or cures currently exist and people don’t understand what’s going on. "If he asks me that question one more time, I’ll scream."

3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. "I don’t care about getting together with the neighbours anymore."

4. Anxiety about facing another day. and what the future holds. "What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?"

5. Depression begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. "I don’t care anymore."

6. Exhaustion makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. "I’m too tired for this."

7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. "What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?"

8. Irritability leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and reactions. "Leave me alone!"

9. Lack of concentration makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. "I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment."

10. Health problems begin to take their toll, both mentally and physically. "I can’t remember the last time I felt good."

Professional counselling and support is a recommended option if you:

• feel the agony is just too much to bear

• find yourself playing the role of martyr, feeling that only you can provide the right kind of care

• find that you are taking out your feelings of rage and frustration on the Alzheimer’s patient

• feel abandoned by doctors, family and friends

• feel increased hostility towards people you once cared for a great deal

• feel humiliated by your loved one’s bizarre behaviour and don’t know how to handle this feeling

• find that you are avoiding all outside contact and activities, preferring to be by yourself or alone with the Alzheimer’s patient

• know that your physical health is suffering from the stress and demands of caregiving

• are relying more and more on alcohol, drugs or both

• feel trapped in emotions of hostility, recrimination and melancholy that increase, rather than diminish over time

• have constant feelings of depression, hopelessness or helplessness; an inability to eat, sleep or work; overwhelming feelings of failure; guilt, rage and insecurity; thoughts of suicide

In general

If you feel stuck in a caregiving situation that is not working and feel unable to find alternatives, if you are alarmed or unhappy or dissatisfied with the ways you are behaving and reacting, it is wise and responsible to seek professional advice and assistance.

(Information provided by

Visit our Alzheimer's Centre for more information. 


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