Dealing with aggression and frustration
Caregivers of people with dementia report of high levels of stress, which can lead to aggression and frustration towards the person they care for. Studies have shown that verbal abuse from family caregivers is common, and physical abuse occur. These behaviors are signs of overwhelmed caregivers. If you find yourself repeatedly shouting at, hitting or pushing the person with dementia, it is important to recognize that these behaviors are a sign of the strain you are under, and that you need to seek assistance immediately. Continuing this pattern of behavior will not only be harmful for the person with dementia, the feeling of disturbance and shame you will experience increases your own stress level as well. Ignoring signs of stress can cause decline in physical and mental health for you, making you less capable to take care of the person with dementia.
Reach out for help.
Find out what kind of community resources are available. In the DemiCare app you will find a dedicated article for this under Learn and Train called “Help Services”.
Join a support group.
Joining a support group can help you cope with the daily tasks of caregiving and provide support. In the DemiCare app, you will find a dedicated article for this under Self-reflection called “Support groups”.
Consult your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about the stress you are experiencing. If the stress of caregiving gets overwhelming, you might need professional help to cope.
You can do many things before you get to this stage of stress to ensure your stress levels remain at an acceptable level:
Use relaxation techniques.
Spend time trying out relaxation techniques, you might need some trial and error before you find what is useful for you. In the beginning, it can be helpful to follow guided videos. Have a look at the resources provided in the DemiCare app, or use the internet to search for yoga, mindfulness, body scans, breath focus etc.
Keep physically active.
Being physically active can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. It does not have to be designated workouts; you will benefit from any activity that keeps you moving. Doing something you love, will enhance the likelihood of you keeping up the activity. If you have difficulties finding activities, think outside the box: go dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming etc.
Eat nutritious food.
Food is important for health and quality of life for both people in health and illness, and in all stages of life. Studies have shown that people in stressful situations move away from healthy low-fat foods, to less healthy, high-fat foods. Keeping a nutritious diet is promoting physical and mental health for you.
Find time for yourself to do things you enjoy.
Keep up doing the things you enjoy. Organize resources around you and the person with dementia to find time for yourself, or with others doing things you enjoy.
Seek human contact and try to break your isolation.
It might be tempting to spend your hours outside caregiving sleeping or doing house chores. Try to spend this time with people you have not seen for a while. Socializing with others can help you to think about something other than the disease, in a change of scenery.
Learn about dementia, and be ready for the challenges ahead.
If you are experiencing stress and frustration related to worry about the progression of dementia, learning about the disease can be a good way to cope. Using the DemiCare-app is a good starting point to be a better-educated caregiver.
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