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Caring for Caregivers: Strategies for Well-Being in Alzheimer’s Care 

Caregivers benefit from social interaction, processing their emotions through journaling, prioritizing quality time, and practicing gratitude.
Caring for caregivers

By: Margarita Venegas

Clinical and Health Psychologist

Caring for Caregivers: Strategies
for Well-Being in Alzheimer's Care

Caregivers benefit from social interaction, processing their emotions through journaling, prioritizing quality time, and practicing gratitude. By implementing these strategies, caregivers can enhance their well-being, resilience, and life satisfaction. 
As social beings, humans are wired to interact and care for one another. Though this is often rewarding, it can also be challenging when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Caring for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease has unique challenges. For example, during its middle and late stages, caregivers often experience physical and/or verbal aggression1 and must carry the burden associated with the patient’s neuropsychiatric symptoms such as agitation. Despite its challenges, however, being a caregiver is also associated with enhanced relationships and a sense of personal growth and satisfaction.2

At IGC Pharma, we care about more than just medicine; we care about the patient and caregiver’s quality of life. Thus, we present caregivers a few strategies to improve their wellbeing and continue providing the best care possible:  

Talk to others

Keeping thoughts and feelings hidden from others can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness whereas being open and sharing experiences can help form deeper connections with others. As a caregiver, it is important to confide in others but especially in other caregivers who can empathize with the same challenges and share the same victories. Such social interactions have shown to have a positive impact on overall well-being 3,4

Write it down

Journaling thoughts, feelings, and experiences provides an outlet for emotional expression, which helps process complex emotions and reduce stress. It also encourages self-reflection, self-awareness, and personal growth. Thus, during difficult times, journaling can serve as a coping mechanism to increase resilience and, in general, as a therapeutic medium for emotional release, self-discovery, and improved mental, emotional, and physical well-being.5 

Quality time

Spending quality time alone and with others is necessary for overall well-being, especially for caregivers. While caring for others can be fulfilling and necessary, caregivers must also be mindful of their own health. This could be by engaging in activities that bring them purpose, joy, and/or relaxation as such can help them maintain a healthy, balanced life. In fact, research shows that quality time and social support can boost resilience since they help mitigate feelings of burden and distress.6 Therefore, prioritizing quality time not only enhances caregiver resilience but also empowers them to continue offering care from a position of strength.

Practice gratitude

Building habits like writing thank-you notes, maintaining a gratitude journal, or simply making an effort to appreciate the positive characteristics of life can have profound effects on emotional well-being. By focusing on the positive, challenges may seem less daunting and thus easier to tackle effectively. Moreover, cultivating feelings of gratitude increases positive self-perception, which boosts self-confidence and improves self-image. Consciously focusing on blessings can offer emotional and interpersonal benefits.7 

We, IGC Pharma, want to underscore the importance of caregivers and their work to help Alzheimer’s Disease patients. Therefore, we hope these tips help them maintain a healthy life both for their benefit and their patients. 

References:

  1. Dodge, K. A., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2016). Impact of caregiving stress on immune system. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed., pp. 51-55). Elsevier.

  2. Li, Q., & Loke, A. Y. (2014). A systematic review of spousal couple-based intervention studies for couples coping with cancer: direction for the development of interventions. Psycho-oncology23(7), 731–739. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.3535

  3. Holt-Lunstad, J. (2021). The potential public health relevance of social isolation and loneliness: Prevalence, epidemiology, and risk factors. Public Policy & Aging Report, 31(4), 127-130. https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prx030

  4. Howick, J., Moscrop, A., Mebius, A., Fanshawe, T. R., Lewith, G., Bishop, F. L., Mistiaen, P., Roberts, N. W., Dieninytė, E., Hu, X. Y., Aveyard, P., & Onakpoya, I. J. (2018). Effects of empathic and positive communication in healthcare consultations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine111(7), 240–252. https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076818769477

  5. Frattaroli J. (2006). Experimental disclosure and its moderators: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin132(6), 823–865. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.6.823

  6. McKenna, O., Fakolade, A., Cardwell, K., Langlois, N., Jiang, K., & Pilutti, L. A. (2022). Resilience and its impact on quality of life and social support: A longitudinal study. Journal of Positive Psychology, 17(3), 289-302.

  7. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology84(2), 377–389. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.84.2.377

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