How to deal with Alzheimer’s Disease caregiver stress

Published: May. 21, 2022 at 8:44 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - May is mental health awareness month, and caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease need to take time to check on themselves, even when that can be hard.

Mark Applegate, from Bolivar, said his mother has Alzheimer’s, and it was tough for him and his family to realize she had an issue. He said he hopes people out there don’t make the same mistake and research quickly as they can, so you can spot the signs.

Applegate said his mother has been in residential care for five years and his grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s and other complications.

The Alzheimer’s Association has tips for caregiver stress: physical activity, taking a needed break, speaking to others, and becoming educated.

Applegate said moving past the denial phase and acting quickly is critical.

”First of all, don’t want to give false hope, but there are a lot of things that mimic dementia,” said Applegate. “Definitely get an opinion and get your primary care physician’s opinion. If they say, oh, yeah, they’ve got dementia, go and get a second opinion. No harm in doing that.”

Applegate said caregiving could be a challenging task.

“If you go into it blindly, which lots of people do, it’s overwhelming,” said Applegate. “You’ll feel guilty going and having fun or anything like that.”

Applegate said you could lose focus on yourself from time to time.

“The caregiver really has a 36-hour day, they have 24 hours for their loved one, and they have their 12 hours trying to catch up on all the things they needed to do themselves,” said Applegate.

Applegate said taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of a loved one in need.

“It’s very, very common, unfortunately, to have a caregiver get sick themselves, and even pass away faster than the loved one with Dementia,” said Applegate.

Applegate said understanding the disease is vital to getting out of denial.

“You’ll feel much more empowered. The more you learn about it, the more you’re around other people that have already been through the track of it,” said Applegate.

Applegate said he would have gone about it differently another time, making sure his family addressed the issue instead of waving it off.

“She didn’t know it, know, my first, middle, and last name already at that point,” said Applegate. “This has been five years ago, and so at that point, it’s like, oh, goodness sakes, we’ve waited too long.”

Applegate said looking at past mistakes can cause unnecessary stress, so finding support groups and getting involved can make you at peace.

“The things I’m experiencing have been experienced by a lot of people before. I have places I can go, people, I can talk to, to find out,” said Applegate. “So it kind of that really undergirds the support structure.”

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, CLICK HERE.

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