For Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Tips to Avoid Burnout

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Linda, a caregiver to her husband with Alzheimer’s, did everything she could to keep her husband at home. Family, including grandchildren, and neighbours were willing to help… at first. After a few months, they burned out. So did Linda. “My job was on the line and, one day, I even nodded off at a red light. I guess three hours of sleep followed by eight hours of work was not good for me.”

Caring for an individual living with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease is among the most stressful of caregiving situations. Many caregivers lose sleep because they are afraid of what will happen to their loved one if left unattended. Others give up their jobs and social circles because they fear leaving a family member at home alone.

Following are suggestions from Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network:

  • Keep a journal to identify what you are feeling. Writing down what is happening and what you are feeling can help tap into your emotions.
  • Talk with a friend. Sometimes talking with someone who knows and loves us can help us figure out what we are feeling.
  • Find a support group. Consider joining the Dementia Friends Canada Facebook page of more than 13,000 followers who are struggling with many of these same issues.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Consider taking people up on their offers to help whether it’s dinner or carpool assistance.
  • Get help. If there is a specific task that is difficult, consider asking someone else to do it. Call your local Alzheimer Society and Home Instead Senior Care office for more information about how these organizations could assist you.
  • Take a break. Respite care, or a break, is not just a “nice” thing. It’s a necessity when caring for someone with dementia. Learn more about the Hilarity for Charity® grant program and how to apply for a grant or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office or Alzheimer Society for additional resources and support.
  • Begin with a mini-vacation. Create a list of things you enjoy doing such as reading, watching TV, listening to music, sitting outside and having coffee with a friend. Then take one or two 15-minute mini-breaks each day to do something on your list.
  • Take care of yourself. Good self-care contributes to emotional well-being and helps better manage stress and the emotions that accompany caregiving.
  • Let it go. Ask yourself if something is really important—if it matters. That practice will likely keep you from getting upset about things you can just let go.

Also, go to the Alzheimer Society’s We Can Help section  for additional resources. And visit for information about a book that offers valuable insight into dementia and ways to manage caregiver stress. You can also download a free mobile app to get on-the-go Alzheimer’s tips for helping to manage stressful situations.

For more information about managing difficult behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s, go to