The Precious Weight of Caregiving

Our Family Home’s mission to foster More Good Days was built from a belief that we serve both our residents and their families. Not just one or the other. It is our goal that by doing what we can to give our residents more good days we are building trust with our families. We are also giving them a renewed piece of mind that their loved one is well-loved.  

I know first-hand what is involved in the care-taking of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, and I know the toll it takes. I recall my personal experiences with my mom after her diagnosis and my grandparents. Now I see that same look on the faces of the families that tour our homes.  

As much as we care about the residents in our homes, we care just as deeply for their families. Particularly because we know research shows the impacts of full-time caregiving for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia to be detrimental to caregivers.  

recent study from the University of Buffalo School of Nursing shows more than 90 percent of people caring for someone with dementia are suffering from poor sleep, which is linked to depression, heart disease, weight gain and premature death. This is due in part to the fact that sleep disturbances, anxiety and wandering are common experiences for most people with dementia. These sleep disturbances, which the study found occurred as often as four times per night, have a direct impact on the health of their caregivers.   

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as very high and more than 1 in 3 dementia caregivers say their health has gotten worse due to their care responsibilities. While these statistics can be saddening, there are also ways to help manage stress for caregivers. 

To help relieve some of the stress associated with caregiving:  

  • Find community resources, such as adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses or hospice, to help you.  
  • Join a support group or ask for help. It’s important to remember that caregivers need support for the mental, physical and emotional aspect of this journey too.  
  • Find time for yourself. While this doesn’t seem easy, it’s necessary. Everyone needs a break from time-to-time. Start by asking for help.  
  • Start taking better care of yourself. Visit your doctor regularly. Prioritize physical activity, eating healthy, relaxation and other forms of self-care. 
  • Become an educated caregiver and make appropriate legal and financial plans. Look for resources that may help you learn new techniques for caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. This may help you mitigate challenging episodes or emotions. Also, plan ahead. Looking toward the future can also ease the burden of care by addressing legal, financial and care decisions while the person with the disease is able to participate.  

 Source: Alzheimer’s Association 

If you’re having trouble providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia or find that it’s taking a toll on your own health, please ask for help. You can access the 24/7 helpline for the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900 or speak with one of our team members to learn about options for in- and out-of home care.