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Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burnout When Dealing with Alzheimer's and Wandering

Caregiver Linda did everything she could to keep her husband at home. Family, including grandchildren, and neighbors were willing to help…at first. After a few months, they burned out. So did Linda. “My job was on the line and, one day, I even nodded off at a red light. I guess three hours of sleep followed by eight hours of work was not good for me.”

Caring for an individual living with a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease is among the most stressful of caregiving situations. Many caregivers lose sleep because they are afraid of what will happen to their loved one if left unattended. Others give up their jobs and social circles because they fear leaving a family member at home alone.

Following are suggestions from Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network:

  • Keep a journal to identify what you are feeling. Writing down what is happening and what you are feeling can help tap into your emotions.

  • Talk with a friend. Sometimes talking with someone who knows and loves us can help us figure out what we are feeling.

  • Find a support group. Look to your local faith community or the Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resource Finder to connect with others who are going through the same thing. Consider joining the Remember for Alzheimer’s Facebook page of more than 270,000 followers who are struggling with many of these same issues.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Consider taking people up on their offers to help whether it’s dinner or carpool assistance.

  • Get help. If there is a specific task that is difficult, consider asking someone else to do it. Call your local Alzheimer’s Association and Home Instead Senior Care office for more information about how these organizations could assist you. The Alzheimer’s Association has a free 24/7 help line with master-level clinicians to talk with family members who are over-burdened. Call 1-800-272-3900 if you need help.

  • Take a break. Respite care, or a break, is not just a “nice” thing. It’s a necessity when caring for someone with dementia. Learn more about the Hilarity for Charity® grant program and how to apply for a grant. Or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office, Alzheimer’s Association chapter or Area Agency on Aging for additional resources and support.

  • Begin with a mini-vacation. Create a list of things you enjoy doing such as reading, watching TV, listening to music, sitting outside and having coffee with a friend. Then take one or two 15-minute mini-breaks each day to do something on your list.

  • Take care of yourself. Good self-care contributes to emotional well-being and helps better manage stress and the emotions that accompany caregiving.

  • Let it go. Ask yourself if something is really important – if it matters. That practice will likely keep you from getting upset about things you can just let go.

Also, go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center for additional resources. And visit for information about a book that offers valuable insight into dementia diseases and ways to manage caregiver stress. You can also download a free mobile app to get on-the-go Alzheimer’s tips for helping to manage stressful situations.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. October 27, 2016 at 09:22 am
    Posted by Jody Carpenter

    My husband of 47 years was diagnosed with dementia in 2010 ... After keeping him at home & almost killing myself this time last year .. I placed him in a veterans home in another city an hour away from friends & family .. I sold our home of 22 years & moved into an apartment 2 miles away ... I am so thankful that he is where he is & I can oversee his care & be with him - feed him & love on him ... Hardest decision I have ever made .. He is now on hospice care and I am with several ladies who are going through the same thing ... We help each other !
  2. October 25, 2016 at 02:53 pm
    Posted by Donaldson Gloria Lee

    A Dear Friend, has dementia, and lives 1200 miles from me, but calls me for help, mostly with her computer, I do what I can, I just went to see her, and had the conversation with her husband, I suggested to him to keep a separate check book as she can't keep it balanced but won't turn the job over to him. She has been tested by her Dr. Since I left, but I haven't heard the results or the Doctors recommendations. Very frustrating being so far away and feeling her husband is really choosing not to deal with the problem.
  3. October 23, 2016 at 11:27 pm
    Posted by Caren Anderson

    I find myself feeling guilty a lot lately as my mother is confiding in me several times a day that she knows her memory is lacking. She thinks its due to the loss of 2 family members in the last year. I know that the loss of these relatives has exacerbated the dementia but know I can't share that with her. It rips at my heart as at times she's so active, happy and even capable and then bam she has trouble doing the most basic things. I promised her I'd stay with her until the day she meets the Lord but it can be very difficult to make her happy and content.
  4. October 4, 2016 at 03:37 pm
    Posted by ann

    My mother has dimentia/Alzheimer's with diabetes..Kindly add to your group.I need to connect to other people to get enlightened on how to take care of her
  5. September 12, 2016 at 07:40 am
    Posted by Amario

    Dementia, is what I,m dealing with, it's very hard not getting up-set. She will go off on the lease little thing! & I've to catch myself, not to get mad, if she get cerial box, which has already been open,she will sometime open the other end, & the bag too, which has already a clamp on it. The bills which she used to do, we got a little late fees, so I took over,that task. Which because of her pass of her ex, did to her. I get the 3rd degree, etc. I could used guide & help

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