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Coping with carer stress

As we go through life, we must each consider the responsibilities we have to one another - to family, to friends and even to strangers. The moral philosopher Emmanuel Levinas summed up our responsibility to others in one simple question:

‘How can I help you?’

But it can be daunting, even overwhelming, if we don’t know what we should do. Carers of people living with dementia constantly ask themselves:

‘Am I doing the right thing? Do I know what I need to know to do what is needed?

As a carer, dealing with these responsibilities can lead to:

  • stress, anxiety and guilt
  • increased demands by the person living with dementia
  • less time for yourself.

We asked some carers about the impact of caring on their own wellbeing:

“He was distressed, and I was distressed. And it was affecting my health really badly. And I felt as if I had no-one to turn to, nowhere to go”.

The responsibility to maintain relationships and communicate to support someone’s everyday needs is likely to be stressful. If you’re having a bad day, you may feel like you are unable to share this with the person you care for. Not being able to express yourself can increase stress. By recognising the circumstances, situations and activities that make us feel stressed, we can start to find ways to manage and reduce this stress.

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This article is from the free online course:

Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Newcastle University

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