You are not a robot— you can’t be awake at every moment, present in every place and expected to know the right thing to do for your loved one in every situation.
Memory care isn’t just an ordeal for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementia disorders— it can take a severe physical, mental and emotional toll on family, friends, and caregivers.
Caregivers can burn out quickly.
Caregiver fatigue is a serious problem for those providing continuing care for seniors who need regular assitance. You can become lost in the stress of meeting a loved one’s day-to-day (or even minute-to-minute) needs, resulting in additional stressors and running your system down.
If you are becoming too wrapped up in providing for another, you may face problems at work, family squabbles, depression, or even symptoms akin to post-traumatic stress disorder. There can even be physical manifestations.
•You’re not sleeping well. If you’re constantly stressed out and worried about getting everything done for your loved one, stress hormones like adrenaline or cortisol which keep you going—and keep you awake. This is known as a positive feedback loop. The only way to break out of it is to get away from those stressors for a time and allow your body to reset.
•You’re overly emotional or acting irrationally. If you cry at the drop of a hat, argue frequently with others, or feel trapped, you’re probably not maintaining a healthy mental balance.
•You’re catching repeated colds or other germs. Stress hormones can reduce the functionality of a person’s immune system. If you are always getting sick, your body may be trying to tell you something.
•You’re running short on energy. Prolonged stress associated with being a fulltime caregiver can leave you feeling worn down. You may not be eating right or finding time to exercise. You might be mentally exhausted. Either way, you need to change the routine, and to do so you’ll probably need help.
Don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own.
Everyone deserves some time away from daily cares. If offering around-the-clock memory care for a loved one with dementia is consuming your life, you need to look into avenues of retreat— even if for short periods.
You need time to recharge.
Luckily, the respite care programs in Cincinnati can help you find the time to do just that. Many nursing care providers offer part-time programs, such as adult day care or in-home nursing care, that can watch over your loved one while you take care of your own daily needs.
Research has shown that patients with mild to moderate dementia benefit from social stimulation, and an adult day care program is designed to give your loved one time out of the home, in the company of peers, while maintaining a safe environment in which they can enjoy themselves and socialize.
Studies have repeatedly shown that breaking routines and presenting Alzheimer’s patients with a safe social environment can improve their quality of life and slow the advance of their memory loss.
Enrolling your loved one in an adult day care program can do just that, and allow you time to work, run errands, or just relax for a few hours per day.
Hiring a licensed in-home nursing aide can also be beneficial to you and your loved one.
Having an extra hand available to help you with demanding tasks like daily bathing, feeding and/or dressing your loved one, or to administer regular medications that you aren’t qualified to give (and which you have to date required a visit to the doctor) will help you to conserve your energy and provide an additional layer of medical safety for the person you are caring for.
If you are overwhelmed, it may be time to consider placement.
Many caregivers experience guilt when they feel overwhelmed. They may see their loved one’s suffering and feel like they are being callous or ungrateful toward a senior who has cared for them in the past. They may feel that considering placement in an assisted living or nursing facility is “giving up” or abandoning their loved one.
That isn’t the case.
There comes a time in the progression of every Alzheimer’s patient when assisted living or skilled nursing becomes necessary for maintaining memory care. You can’t be everywhere all the time, and no one — especially not your loved one — expects you to be.
If you are regularly experiencing caregiver fatigue, now may be the time to consider calling in the professionals— it may just be the best thing you can do for your loved one and your health.