Helping care for an older loved one can be among the most fulfilling experiences in life. It is often an opportunity to give back to someone who gave so much to you through the years. But with the responsibilities of caregiving comes inevitable stress. It may be difficult to balance your loved one’s needs with those of other family members and yourself. Caregiver stress is an almost universal phenomenon, and it can lead to serious mental and physical health problems for caregivers.
Luckily, there is a wealth of online information available now for family caregivers, from stress assessments to concrete lessons in stress management. Following are just a few resources that we would recommend family caregivers check out:
TED-Ed Lessons. TED-Ed lessons are an online offshoot of the famous TED talks. Two of the relatively short videos are of particular relevance to caregivers of older adults. “How Stress Affects the Brain” shows how chronic stress can literally affect an individual’s brain. It’s a fascinating look at stress’ physical impact on not just our thinking and feeling, but the brain itself. “What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?” tackles what the video’s name implies, providing a great deal of valuable information on dementia.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center. The national Alzheimer’s Association maintains an online resource centerfor caregivers and is very user-friendly. Some of our favorite resources include: a caregiver stress check quiz, e-learning workshops, family caregiver forums/message boards, a 24/7 helpline for caregivers, a virtual library, and a community resource finder.
AARP. The national organization promoting the needs of baby boomers today has created an entire caregiver section on its website. Under Home and Family, the Caregiving section features topics on planning and organizing for caregiving, dealing with benefits and insurance, legal and financial matters, providing care, senior housing, end of life care, and – importantly, caring for yourself. Check out its 10 Ways to Deal with Caregiver Stress.
The Mayo Clinic. For general information on healthy living, few websites can compete with the Mayo Clinic’s. Under its Healthy Lifestyle section, the site addresses the topic of stress management. One helpful feature is its article, “Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself.” The website also provides detailed information on various diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
“Knowledge is power” is a truism that applies to family caregivers, too. If you are caring for an aging loved one, remember that you must take care of yourself in order to take care of a loved one effectively. Arm yourself with some helpful information and you’ll be able to keep a better check on your stress.