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Center for Cognitive Health

Tips and Resources For Caregivers

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, resulting in an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care.

While being a caregiver is gratifying, it is also associated with physical, psychological, and financial burdens. It is common for caregivers to report a decline in their own health while caring for another, and it compromises their ability to be a reliable and effective caregiver. Many caregivers report having less time for family and friends, experiencing increased emotional stress, and decreased self-care. Self-care includes maintaining healthy dietary, exercise, mental health, and sleep habits. [1]

It is important that caregivers receive support and develop a system that allows them to tend to their own mental and physical health. Caregivers need to take breaks, monitor their own health, practice self-care, and seek out a support group or similar resource when needed. The stress associated with being a caregiver can result in depression and anxiety.

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) states:

  • Family caregivers who provide care 36 hours or more weekly are more likely than non-caregivers to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Spouses providing care experience symptoms of depression or anxiety at a rate of six times higher than non-caregivers.
  • Family caregivers caring for a parent experience symptoms of depression or anxiety at a rate that is twice as high as non-caregivers.

 The CAN provides resources to monitor caregiver depression including a caregiver depression test, found here.

There are many online resources that give caregivers access to informational video resources, discussion forums, helpful checklists, safety tips and more. Every person’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease is unique and different, but having basic resources available to turn to can provide comfort and help reduce stress.

I’d like to share two main resources. The first being The Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a non-profit organization mentioned earlier. Their site offers a caregiver toolbox loaded with helpful tips, as well as, access to an online care community, video and story library, ways to cope with Alzheimer’s disease etc.

 CAN offers information for any caregiver, not just those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The website primarily focuses on Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and COPD. Their website can be accessed here. 

The second great resource I’d like to mention is the Alzheimer’s Association. Their website provides information and educational material for those living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, and volunteers. The Alzheimer’s Association offers many support groups for those with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers. To find support groups in your area click this link. 

Additional support can be found via the National Institute on Aging and the Family Caregiver Council. 

[1] Collins, Lauren & Swartz, Kristine. (2011). Caregiver Care. American family physician. 83. 1309-17.
[2] Depression Test [Internet]. Screening 2 Supports. [cited 2019Apr19]. Available from: https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools/depression?ref=CAN
[3] Home [Internet]. Caregiver Action Network. [cited 2019Apr19]. Available from: https://caregiveraction.org/