Caregiver Quiz ~ How Are You Holding Up?
If you are responsible for the care of a loved one with dementia, it’s important to recognize if you are overwhelming yourself to the point of experiencing stress-related health issues. Take a moment to look over our quiz to see if you're affected by caregiver stress.
Make a note of how often you say "yes."
- Are you the primary caregiver?
- Do you provide more than four hours of caregiving every day?
- Are you the sole caregiver?
- Do you exercise less than three hours each week?
- Do you care for multiple people each day?
- If so, do you care for more than one person with Alzheimer's or dementia?
- Do you get fewer than four hours per day of personal time?
- Is your care recipient a close family member?
- Do you eat fast food more than three times per week?
- Do you work odd hours, such as nighttime hours, or have a varying shift schedule?
If you said yes to more than three of these items, chances are that you're affected by caregiver stress. You may be putting your health at risk.
The Effects of Dementia Caregiving
Dementia brings endless challenges, concerns and changes to not only the person diagnosed, but to the entire family. Alzheimer's and related dementias are difficult, unpredictable diseases, and with them come a new world of unexpected hardships, emotions and experiences for unprepared loved ones to face together. However, the life adjustments needed when a loved one has dementia are just the beginning. The job ahead typically requires a significant amount of supervision, and those suffering with dementia are less likely to express gratitude for the help they receive – and are more likely to be depressed, resentful or both. All of these factors take a great toll on the caregivers.
Family caregivers of people with dementia, often called the invisible second patients, are critical to the quality of life for care recipients. While they perform an important, compassionate service for their loved ones, family caregivers do so at considerable cost to their own well-being. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, family members who provide care face their own health concerns caused by the amount of time, energy, and overwhelming emotional burdens of caregiving. When compounded, these can all have some serious effects.
To provide at-home care for a loved one with dementia involves tasks that may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, and are often stressful and exhausting. Researchers have even suggested that the combination of prolonged stress and physical demands of caregiving increase the risk for health problems, leading caregivers to approximately $9.3 billion in additional healthcare costs of their own in 2013 alone. Policymakers have taken notice to this startling figure, and have since recognized the effects of caregiving as a major public health issue.
Knowing you’re not alone is a big step in avoiding these problems. If you’re feeling the pressure of providing dementia care for a loved one, search out and find an online caregiver support forum or discussion group, and join in discussions with other caregivers. You can visit the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center to find a support group near you. Share your experiences and learn from others going through similar situations. Caregivers are to reach out, vent a little, and lean on fellow caregivers, as they better understand what you’re going through.