Caring for someone with a life-threatening illness can be physically, emotionally and financially draining. When you add a disease like Dementia into the equation, it can present a whole new set of challenges.

There’s no routine when it comes to caring for someone with Dementia. The disease affects each individual differently, so no two days — or even two hours — may be the same.

Imagine doing a job or completing a task that at any moment can be different from as little as five minutes ago.  When a person is in a constant state of change, anxiety is at the forefront not only for them, but their carer as well.

The emotional and physical stress of being a carer for someone with dementia takes a toll, especially on their partner or spouse. This can lead to higher levels of stress, a weakened immune system and increased risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. The biggest culprit of carer stress is the need to be in a constant state of awareness.

As a family carer, you are always ‘on’, which can lead to lack of sleep and exhaustion. Wandering isn’t on a schedule — it can happen at any time. With this uncertainty and safety concerns, family carers can experience an increase in anxiety often resulting in them staying at home more often which in turn may result in feelings of isolation and depression.

These are our top tips to relieve carer stress before it becomes too overwhelming:

Find support.

Join a support group where you can meet people who truly understand the difficult situation you’re facing.

Ask for and accept help from others.

Family and friends want to help, but they usually don’t know how to. Next time someone offers support, be prepared with a few ideas, such as dropping off dinner or running to the shops for you.  If possible, enlist the help of a professional CAREGiver. It’s important for family carers to take some time out for themselves to rest and recharge.

Knowledge = power.

Education and information can empower a family carer to understand, plan and manage the journey ahead. As specialists in providing dementia care, Home Instead supports families and carers and has a range of free dementia resources.

Our Dementia Guide for families and carers will walk you through the basics of the disease, but more importantly provide tips and techniques for minimizing symptoms and creating meaningful days at home.

We also have a number of free online classes and resources available at Furthermore, our free Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias Daily Companion app can help you navigate care situations with quick solutions for issues such as wandering, communication or help with activities of daily living.