Is Dementia Contagious?
Experts agree that the demanding environment experienced by caregivers of dementia patients carries an elevated risk for the caregivers themselves developing dementia. According to one study published by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, many who are at risk are spouses or close family members caring for loved ones with dementia. The findings indicated that this group was six times more likely to develop dementia.
Why is the Risk so Great for Caregivers?
Providing adequate care for dementia patients is among the most stressful roles a spouse or family member can be asked to perform. The challenges presented when caring for a person with this sort of mental condition can prove to be overwhelming, both physically and mentally. Many times dementia slowly progresses over months or years, becoming more demanding and difficult for the caregiver with each passing day. With these ever increasing challenges come chronic anxiety, stress and depression for the ones providing care. These symptoms in and of themselves can provide triggers for the onset of dementia, and herein lies the danger.
Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one suffering with dementia is to care for yourself. Their care depends on your mental and physical wellbeing. Here are some valuable safeguards that can easily be implemented into your daily routine that will help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everybody needs help sometimes and that is one of the wonderful things about having a network of friends and family. Lean on them in the tough times. Accept any offers of help that may come your way.
• Learn how to do deep breathing exercises and do them at least once and preferably twice a day. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to relax and instantly reduce stress.
• Engage in physical exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. Like deep breathing, physical exercise will give you an outlet for tension and stress held in the body.
• Learn about dementia. By understanding the stages that your loved one will go through you will automatically prepare yourself for what will happen next.
• Talk to doctors. Discussing your particular situation with health care professionals about an alternative health care plan is essential in case caring for your loved one at home becomes unmanageable.
Even though caring for loved ones with dementia is an important job and an immense act of love, it can become overwhelming and lead to unhealthy and prolonged episodes of anxiety, stress and depression. By taking care of yourself as you care for your loved one you will be able to deliver better quality care as well as reducing your own chances for getting dementia.