Managing Caregiver Stress in AD Essential During Back-to-School Time, AFA Says

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by Mary Chapman |

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The strain of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) during the hectic back-to-school season can be overwhelming. For good brain health, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) says it’s essential to take measures to mitigate stress.

“It’s super important to make managing stress one of your top priorities, particularly when you’re juggling many different responsibilities,” Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA president and CEO, said in a press release. “Too much stress can affect sleep, appetite, and productivity, and, of course, impacting your ability to be at your best for those you are caring for in your life.”

A recent study, published in the scientific journal Psychogeriatrics, concludes that caring for people with AD markedly affects caregivers’ care for themselves.

“Awareness, motivation and knowledge of self-care, as well as knowledge of healthcare resources, are important prerequisites for caregivers to achieve self-care management,” the researchers said. They noted that it’s more common in Alzheimer’s than many other diseases for family members to be primary caregivers.

More than 16 million U.S. residents provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, according to an annual report by the Alzheimer’s Association. In the U.S., some 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, a number projected to rise to 14 million by 2050.

The AFA notes that one of the most stressful times of the year is about to begin, as children across the nation prepare to return to school.

To help manage caregiver stress, particularly during this time, the AFA offers the following reminders:

1. Keep a positive frame of mind.

2. Accept what can’t be controlled. All that one can control is how one reacts to a situation.

3. Be candid and open regarding feelings. If people are unaware of a problem, they can’t help.

4. It’s important to relax and take time to breathe.

5. Get moving. Exercise lowers tension and stress levels.

6. Take things as they come, one day at a time. If a situation’s not an emergency, resist turning it into one.

7. Getting a good night’s sleep is key to optimal functioning.

8. Drink plenty of water, and eat a balanced healthful diet rife with fruits and vegetables.

9. Set realistic goals, and don’t race to achieve them. Life is a journey.

10. Socialize and have fun.

The non-profit Alzheimer’s Foundation funds research and provides support, services, and education nationally to patients, families, and caregivers affected by AD and other dementias.