Reducing Caregiver Stress Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
(March 26, 2020)— As millions of families across the country balance the responsibilities of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease with the ongoing changes caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is providing tips to help caregivers lower their stress levels.
“Reducing stress is always important for caregivers, and even more so now,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Disruptions in daily routines, social isolation, and anxiety are all added stressors caused by the coronavirus, but there are steps caregivers can take to help reduce stress and take care of themselves so that they can continue to provide care to their loved ones.”
AFA suggests the following tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers to help them reduce stress:
- Stay in touch. Social isolation and social distancing because of the coronavirus doesn’t mean cutting off contact with others. FaceTime, phone calls, text messages and emails with loved ones and friends are all ways to stay connected, even when you can’t leave the house or have visitors.
- Be adaptable and positive. Your attitude influences stress levels for both you and the person you’re caring for. Focus on how to adjust to the situation in a constructive way. For example, if you’re loved one’s regular adult day program is closed to protect public safety, there are easy, fun activities you can do at home to keep them active and engaged. If you can’t eat out at your favorite restaurant, see if they’re now delivering.
- Deal with what you can control. Outside factors like the coronavirus outbreak are out of your control: how you react to them is not. Following public health guidelines, eating properly, setting a routine, getting a good night’s sleep and prioritizing self-care are all helpful and well within your control.
- Clear and refresh your mind. Exercise, yoga, meditating, listening to music or even taking a few deep breaths can all help relax the mind and reduce stress (and be done indoors). Find something that works for you and do it regularly!
- Don’t overload on news. Staying informed is important, but constantly checking news sources and social media can add to stress levels. Getting news from trusted sources (i.e. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your state/local health department) and setting a schedule to get news updates (i.e. 6 pm every night for half an hour) can help.
- Share your feelings. Sometimes just talking about your stress can help relieve it. Whether it’s with someone in your support structure, a professional or even a stranger, don’t be reluctant to open up. AFA’s Helpline has licensed social workers available for caregivers seven days to provide support or even just listen.
AFA’s Helpline, staffed entirely by licensed social workers trained in dementia care, is open seven days a week to help provide additional tips about reducing caregiver stress, caregiving during the coronavirus outbreak and more. The Helpline can be reached by calling 866-232-8484 or visiting www.alzfdn.org and clicking the blue and white chat icon in the right hand corner of the page.