NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month and the Alzheimer's Association is focusing its attention not only to the growing impact of the disease, but also on the unique challenges facing Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers, especially during the upcoming holiday season.
Caregiver stress is a significant and growing problem for families affected by Alzheimer's disease. It is estimated that more than 1 million individuals in New York State and 15 million Americans overall provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias.
About two-thirds of caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are women; over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
Among primary caregivers of people with dementia fifty-five percent take care of parents.
Twenty-three percent of Alzheimer's disease or dementia caregivers are "sandwich generation" caregivers, meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Caring for a person living with Alzheimer's or another dementia can take a severe emotional, physical and financial toll on the individual providing it. The personality and behavior of a person with Alzheimer's are affected as the disease progresses, and these changes are often among the most challenging for family caregivers. It's important for caregivers, and family and friends closest to them, to recognize these common signs of caregiver stress:
Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed
Anger at the person with Alzheimer's or frustration that he or she can't do the things they used to be able to do
Social withdrawal from friends and activities that used to make you feel good
Anxiety about the future and facing another day
Depression that breaks your spirit and affects your ability to cope
Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks
Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns
Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions
Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks
Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll
An important key to good caregiving is a healthy caregiver. Managing caregiver stress is essential and benefits both the caregiver and the person under their care. The Alzheimer's Association offers these key resources to help manage caregiver stress:
ALZConnected® – Connects caregivers with others to share common problems, challenges and potential solutions.
24/7 Helpline – Offers confidential support and information by master's level clinicians and specialists on a variety of Alzheimer's-related topics. Help is available all day, every day at 800.272.3900.