For people who take care of a parent or other loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, it is common to feel that they are a reaching a breaking point. Many caregivers try to ‘go it alone’ and wait too long, reaching a point of crisis before they seek help.
One way to prevent a crisis is to learn the signs that you are becoming overwhelmed. Sheila Williams, who manages Sunnyside Community Services’ CARE NYC Program, says caregivers must recognize the signs that they may be overwhelmed. The CARE NYC Program provides services to caregivers that care for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Denying the problem
Do you find yourself saying things like, “Dad just needs a little more help right now,” but “right now” has turned into weeks or months? You might be denying how serious his condition has become. You may not realize what it’s taking out of you to be a caregiver. If you believe your loved one “just had a difficult week,” but the hard weeks keep repeating, you may be headed for a breaking point.
Experiencing your own health consequences
If you’re the primary caretaker for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you have little time for yourself. But you should watch out for signs that you’re letting your health slip. Skipping meals, feeling bone-aching exhaustion, or experiencing unexplained stomach aches may happen, but shouldn’t become frequent. If you let your health suffer too long, you may find you’re unable to keep caring for your loved one.
Feeling alone—or lashing out
More than 60 percent of caregivers report feeling high or very high levels of emotional stress, says Sheila Williams, Program Director of the CARE NYC program at Sunnyside Community Services. Sometimes, caregivers feel totally isolated, like no one understands. Other times, they may find themselves arguing with close family and friends, and resenting the burden of caring for a loved one. Caregivers in this situation need to seek help soon to avoid becoming emotionally unwell.
Worrying about the future
Being concerned about what’s to come is normal. Especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may be concerned about how the disease will progress. But if you’re losing sleep, overwhelmed by the financial and administrative burden of helping your loved one, you should seek help. Long-term planning can be the most stressful part of caring for a loved one. That’s why there are services to help, such as educational seminars or programs that help you navigate getting health insurance or financial assistance.
At Sunnyside Community Services, the CARE NYC program helps those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. You can call 877-577-9337 to connect with CARE NYC’s free services throughout the five boroughs.