Millions of Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, most of whom are 65+. When a friend or relative has Alzheimer’s, caring for them can feel like an emotional rollercoaster as you navigate good days and bad. Staying recharged and refreshed as an informal caregiver is the key to ensuring that your loved one lives out the remainder of their life with dignity. What follows are several sure-fire ways to avoid caregiver burnout when looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s. 

What is Alzheimer’s?

As the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that involves areas of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. The disease initially presents mild memory loss and confusion.

As it progresses, Alzheimer’s can make it difficult to carry on a normal conversation and respond to one’s environment. During the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, performing activities of daily living (ADLs) – such as feeding oneself, dressing, and toileting – can be next to impossible. Unusual behaviors such as wandering off or sundowning can also occur.

Caregiver Burnout Warning Signs

Often subtle at first, caregiver burnout can sneak up on you when least expected, placing your health and well-being – and that of your care recipient – at risk.

Caregiver burnout warning signs include:

  • Lack of energy (chronic fatigue)
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Irritable, restless, and argumentative behaviors
  • Feeling hopeless all the time

Self-Care Hacks for Stressed Caregivers

When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, ignoring the symptoms of caregiver burnout won’t make them go away. Here’s how to ensure you both get the care you deserve:

Set realistic goals

Although it’s difficult to accept, no matter how hard you try your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones — like getting Dad out of the house for some healthy exercise. After all, you’re only human!

Stop unhealthy habits

If you’re sick in bed (again) because you’re not taking care of yourself, start making some positive lifestyle changes. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes or drinking too much. Get a complete physical every year, and don’t neglect your other medical appointments.

Pamper yourself

Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy every week. Use your newfound downtime to learn a new hobby, go shopping, or just spend a few hours curled up on the couch binge-watching your favorite TV shows. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for taking a break from your caregiving duties.

Start journaling

Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences that you are going through — for instance, that you were able to get Mom to eat everything on her plate today. When you’re having a bad day, go back and revisit the good moments and focus on how your efforts are making a difference.

Try healthy stress-relievers

Find time to participate in healthy stress-relieving activities like walking, swimming, cycling, or Yoga three to five times per week. Treat yourself at least once a month to a spa day or lunch with your friends. Seek professional counseling if negative feelings like anxiety and depression persist.

Take a break

Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure. Keep burnout at bay by seeking relief through community volunteers, family members, friends, or a meal delivery or senior transportation service. Another option is to hire a professional respite caregiver through a reputable home care provider.

Reliable In-Home Respite Care for Families in Naples, FL

Finding someone reliable to care for an aging loved one can be stressful. Put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® Senior Care. Conveniently available in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with a human touch.

Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at