It’s a disease so devastating that it can destroy your life even if you DON’T get it. That’s the hidden toll of Alzheimer’s.
It’s not just that it’s shattering for those who have it. The impact it takes on the victim’s loved ones… especially the spouse and others closest to the patient… can be nearly as damaging in many ways.
New research shows how these caregivers have slipped through the cracks of modern medicine. They’re in desperate need of care themselves.
They need help dealing with the fear, stress, anxiety, and more that comes with caring for a loved one with dementia. But they’re not getting it.
That’s taking a massive toll on their mental health. Which, in turn, can make it even tougher to be a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.
It’s a terrible cycle. After all, how can you care for another person when you’re in desperate need of some care yourself?
If this sounds familiar, keep reading. Because I’ve got a solution. And that’s getting some much-needed care for the caregiver.
The hidden toll of Alzheimer’s disease
It’s just one person who is battling Alzheimer’s. But in many ways, there are two patients—one with dementia and another living through every moment of it right alongside them.
What makes it truly horrible is that as the disease worsens, the patient notices the slipping away less. Which, in turn, causes the loved one to suffer even more.
In many ways, it can feel as if you’ve “lost” someone who’s still right in front of your eyes because they no longer recognize you. And that’s why new research finds that loved ones caring for someone with Alzheimer’s are far more likely to suffer from serious mood disorders.
If you’re a caregiver for someone with dementia, your risk of depression jumps by nearly a third. And unlike other forms of depression that can come and go, this one hangs around.
In fact, the study in the Journal of Applied Gerontology finds the depression can last for two years or longer. And it tends to deepen over time. That, in turn, can lead to two issues that complicate your role as a caregiver.
- First, depression can increase your risk of falls by 30 percent… not to mention other health problems… making it tough to continue to care for someone else.
- Even without a fall, mood disorders such as depression can make it hard to do ANYTHING, much less care for someone else with a deadly chronic disease.
Even worse, it’s likely that many caregivers never seek help for their depression because they feel like it’s small potatoes next to Alzheimer’s disease. And if that sounds like you, you NEED to hear this.
You SHOULDN’T avoid getting help for yourself, and you certainly SHOULDN’T feel any guilt over it. In fact, getting the care you need makes you an even better caregiver. Because you’ve got to take care of yourself first to make sure you can continue to be there for your loved one.
3 ways to care for the caregiver
But don’t make heavy-duty mood meds your first stop. Studies show they’re often ineffective, and they come with some disturbing side effects.
Try these other three options first…
- Self-care: Take time out of each day to ENJOY something. Good music. A favorite show. A relaxing bath. Even just a cup of coffee and a magazine. Find something that helps you unwind, and savor it. You’ll be blown away by how effective this simple act of self-kindness can help.
- Natural therapies: Time-tested nondrug remedies such as rhodiola and ashwagandha can help ease stress, anxiety, and other mood problems. And they don’t come with a bunch of sickening side effects.
- Support: The Alzheimer’s Association has some support options online and a free 24/7 support line available at 1-800-272-3900. Don’t hesitate to reach out. The folks on the other end of the line completely understand the challenges you’re facing. And they will have solutions that have been proven to help.
Don’t let the damage of Alzheimer’s take down two victims at the same time. Stand up for yourself so you can stand up for your loved one.