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Stress. It’s amazing what a small, six-letter word can do to a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. We have all felt stress at different times, and know the havoc it can cause, from the headaches to the ulcers to the fits of uncontrollable crying.
For many of us, and especially for the caregivers of a loved one with a chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, negative stress often is the leader of other undesirable feelings. Stress, along with guilt, despair and anxiety quickly can eat away at a family caregiver’s entire being.
It’s important for us to recognize the power of negative stress and to understand how it can have an impact on us as caregivers. It also is important to recognize stress can be controlled with help from others. Take a few minutes to take this Caregiver Stress Check published by the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) to find out about your own stress signals.
Do you regularly …
If you have answered yes to any of these questions and feel like these stress indicators are experienced on a regular basis, your overall well being is being jeopardized and a physician should be consulted. Your physician will help you to manage the physical and mental changes often brought on by stress and may suggest the following:
As negative as the word “stress” sounds, we must recognize having some stress in one’s life is a positive generator. Positive stress often gives a person the extra drive to accomplish challenging tasks.
Positive stress also can help someone feel as if they have climbed the highest mountain and made it all the way to the top without falling down. The positives can only present themselves once supports and resources have been put in place. Without the extra support, the negative stressors will only become more apparent.
Through all of the stressful acts of caregiving and daily living, it is most important to give yourself credit, not guilt. Taking on a positive attitude toward stressful events can help us to realize we are only human and doing the best we possibly can under the circumstances.
Contact Senior Life columnist Monica Ruehling at firstname.lastname@example.org.