Managing caregiver stress is key to helping your family member.

Caregiver stress is the all too common outcome of caring for a family member with dementia. The challenges of caring for someone else on top of your other responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

Being a member of the Sandwich Generation caring for aging parents and children or grandchildren can lead more pressure.

One of the saddest and scariest parts of caring for a family member with dementia are the changes you will see in his personality and feel in your relationship with him. The ongoing sadness you feel as your family member declines adds to the difficulty of your role.

Managing your feelings, is the key to being there for your family member and continuing help him. The best way to help you and your family member is to set aside time to take care of yourself. This can be very challenging to do.

To neglect yourself may seem to make sense in the short run. There is always so much to do and not enough time. In the long run, allowing caregiver stress to build up will hurt you physically and emotionally.

Here are some suggestions for taking care of yourself:

  1. Join a support group to get emotional support and practical tips from people who understand what you are going through.
  2. Take regular breaks from caregiving by having friends, relatives or home care workers fill in for you.
  3. Create a long term plan of how to care for your relative to reduce the stress of constantly responding to emergencies.
  4. Maintain or work toward a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating right.

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