Caring for the Caregiver

The negative impact of care giving on the caregiver has been well documented. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 40% of family and other unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias rate the emotional stress of care giving as high or very high. Additionally, these caregivers are more likely than non-caregivers to report their health is fair or poor.

In a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, researchers encouraged caregivers to express their thoughts about factors that cultivate a poor quality of life and many respondents noted “how stressful their situation was because of their extensive involvement in providing care”. Moreover, a study exploring the effect of giving care on caregivers’ health found depression was the most frequently reported mental health problem of caregivers. In combination, these studies suggest that a caregivers’ quality of life can be seriously impacted as a result of participating in the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

Interventions that empower family caregivers to take care of themselves are in high demand as the number of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease increases. A recent study at the University of Washington found evidence supporting the positive impact of community-based caregiver education on the overall psychological well-being of family caregivers. Researchers presented caregivers a series of six classes each held for two hours. Topics included taking care of the caregiver, identifying and reducing personal stress, communicating feelings in challenging situations, and mastering care giving decisions. At the completion of the six weeks, caregivers had a significant increase in healthy behaviors including eating a healthier diet and maintaining an exercise regimen. Additionally, caregivers improved their ability to care for themselves, including an increase in time for stress-management and personal renewal.

Respite and support NDIS Service are an important component of caring for the caregiver. Caregivers frequently devote themselves totally to those they care for and inadvertently neglect themselves, reducing their quality of life. The support of family and community resources can be a tremendous help.