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Caregiver Resources


Understanding and Managing Stress for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease & Caregivers

Stress affects Everyone – But in different ways

NO TWO PEOPLE EXPERIENCE STRESS IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY!
Stress is defined as “The exposure to a stressful event AND the reaction to that stressor”
Stress is based on the individual’s perception of the event that is occurring.
Words used to describe “Stress”:
• Burden
• Guilt
• Hopeless
• Worthless
• Sadness
• Overwhelmed
• Anxious
• Exhausted

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may demonstrate anxious behaviors when experiencing stress, fear, or over-stimulation. Identifying and reducing demands may ease the overall stress.


Managing Stress levels

Stress can cause illness: Chronic stress has been shown to be the most destructive to health. Stress produces biological reactions that “age” the body.

The key is understanding how to replace unwanted chronic stress with normal levels of daily stress that can be managed.

Coping Styles and Social Support are the most common Buffers to Negative Outcomes of Stress.


4 Coping Strategies/Styles

Try to use a combination of coping strategies when combating stress:

ACTIVE COPING:
Seeking support, Seeking assistance in making plans,  Organizing resources.

EMOTIONAL/RELATIONSHIP COPING:
Using Empathy & Compromise, Practicing Good Communication Skills

COGNITIVE COPING:
Computer Based Learning, Disease education, Books and newsletters.

SPIRITUAL COPING:
Prayer or meditation, Acceptance, Pastoral care and counseling.


Daily Intervention for Managing Stress

INCREASING “EVERYDAY” PLEASANT ACTIVITIES

Increase “Daily Joy”

DAILY JOY:
• Exercise
• Hobbies
• Meditation
• Humor
• Socializing
• Phone visits
• Outdoor Activities
• Gardening
• Music
• Praying
• Reading
• Singing
• Birdwatching


Breathing Stress Away

Do simple deep breathing for five minutes, twice a day. Your goal is to keep your attention on the breath cycle & keep unwanted outside thoughts to a minimum.

Do this exercise in a comfortable position wth eyes lightly closed. This is a basic form of meditation and a way to begin reducing stress.


LENA G. SMITH, Ph.D. Candidate, LBSW, University of New Mexico
LightBridge Healthcare Research, Inc.