As a caregiver, you are not alone. There are millions of individuals across the U.S. who provide care for spouses, parents and loved ones. However, the level of care needed to look after a loved one with Alzheimer's, dementia and similar incapacitating conditions can take its toll on your own health.
Stress and high blood pressure
Caring for a loved one is stressful. You may need to make medical decisions, financial decisions and coordinate for your loved one's care. This takes time, energy and an emotional toll.
According the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 60 percent of caregivers report high stress levels when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia. While there is no direct link between stress and long-term high-blood pressure, stressful situations can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. Over time, if your body is subjected to many spikes in blood pressure, it may cause long-term issues.
Additionally, individuals in high-stress situations often do not take the time to care for themselves. One in five caregivers of Alzheimer's or dementia patients cut back in their own health checkups. Additionally, stress can lead to overeating, smoking, drinking and other behaviors that can negatively impact health.
What can you do?
As a caregiver, you need to seek help from every possible source. This includes:
- Regularly seeing your doctor for checkups and preventative care
- Reaching out to family and friends for the support you need
- Taking advantage of local organizations for caregivers and other resources such as the Massachusetts Family Caregiver Support Program
- Working with an attorney to resolve any elder law issues that may arise, including Medicaid planning, long-term care planning and other legal matters
Take the time to ensure you have the support you need so you have the energy necessary to care for your loved one.