How does Alzheimer’s Affect the Family Caregiver?


The impact of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s has a ripple effect on the entire family and their network of friends, but most likely the biggest effect is on the family caregiver.

The impact Alzheimer’s disease has on caregivers can lead to a variety of emotions, from guilt to anger, as well as influence their own physical and financial well-being. The most common effects include:

Increased Risk of Physical Illness: A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic uncovered that family caregivers report a greater number of physical health problems and worse overall health compared with non-caregivers. Family caregivers are at increased risk of various problems, including:

    • cardiovascular problems
    • lower immunity
    • poor sleep patterns
    • slower wound healing

  • higher levels of chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, ulcers, and anemia

 

Growing Financial Challenges: Costs associated with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease are high. Direct costs include physician care, medical tests, medication, and personal nursing care. Indirect costs include loss of earnings by family caregivers as they relinquish or reduce employment and paid hours out of choice or necessity.

Diminished Emotional Well-Being:  Levels of psychological distress are significantly higher in Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related caregivers than in other types of caregivers and non-caregivers. Caregiver stress can result in serious psychological problems, including depression and anxiety that should be treated immediately. Learn more about the symptoms of caregiver burnout.

Increasing Social Isolation: Family caregivers often lack social contact and support and, as a result, experience feelings of social isolation. They tend to sacrifice their own leisure pursuits and hobbies, reduce time with friends and family, and give up or reduce employment in order to devote time to their loved one.

Too much stress over long periods of time can be harmful to both the caregiver and the person in his or her care. Here are some caregiver stress management tips that we’ve shared previously that are still very useful.

  • Identify the community resources that are in your area and take advantage of their services. Adult day programs, in-home care assistance, and meal delivery are some services that can help you manage daily tasks.
  • Include physical exercise into your own daily routine. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
  • Carve out time for yourself. Take advantage of respite care so you can take a break to refresh and spend time doing something you enjoy.
  • Take care of yourself. Visit your doctor regularly. Try to eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. Making sure that you are healthy can help you be a better caregiver.

We are proud to CHAMPION the family caregiver, offering empathy, advice, and support for those who provide countless hours of care to their loved ones. We want to provide a helping hand, relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving and give you back a few hours in your overwhelmingly busy day.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.org

Alzheimer’s Association: www.alz.org

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