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Health Information Caring for the Caregiver

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, remember to take care of yourself. Caring is hard work. Looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, while still trying to manage your own life, can leave you exhausted and, sometimes, depressed.

“We’ve always known caregiving is stressful, but over the past 20 years we’ve found that, at least for some caregivers, it translates into depressive symptoms,” says Carol J. Farran, DNSc, RN, a researcher and professor in the Rush College of Nursing.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, up to 50 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers have symptoms such as sad or irritable moods, disturbed sleep, loss of energy, suicidal thinking, or changes in appetite and weight.

“You can get caught in a web where you keep doing, doing, doing,” Farran says. “But caregivers need to maintain a two-track life: one devoted to caregiving and one devoted to your own self-care.”

Exercising regularly, eating well and getting enough sleep helps both physically and emotionally, she says.

Other tips:

  • Make time for things you enjoy, such as hobbies and friends.
  • Seek out care services or friends who can fill in occasionally.
  • Join a support group or confide your feelings to a close friend or counselor.
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