62,000 British Columbians have dementia. By 2024, that number is expected to rise to 87,000. Large numbers of these people will require increasingly comprehensive care in their day-to-day life.

This care often falls to a loved one – spouses, siblings, children, and even friends. Caring for a loved one with a neurodegenerative disease can quickly become a full-time job, which takes a physical and emotional toll on caregivers.

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

Here in BC, 31% of unpaid caregivers report significant distress. While caring for a loved one can be rewarding, it can also be exhausting and frustrating. Most non-professional caregivers do not receive training in the care they provide, and the experience can be isolating and lead to burnout.

Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weakened immune system
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Prolonged lack of energy and a lack of interest in things that used to make you happy

It is important to recognize these symptoms so you can take steps to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Many people find it difficult to set aside the time they need for self-care. So keep the airplane mask rule in mind – you need to put on your own mask before helping others.

Helpful Tips to Prevent and Treat Burnout:

  • Spend time outside and exercise
  • Maintain a proper sleep schedule
  • Take regular breaks – even if just for a few minutes
  • Treat yourself to small pleasures like a massage or a favourite meal
  • Ask for help – you don’t have to be all things to all people

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Caring for the Caregiver

A new program called the Dementia Caregivers Clinic, championed by Dr. Heather D’Oyley, aims to support the mental health of these dedicated caregivers.

When you commit to this type of care, it’s an unpaid full-time job, often on top of traditional employment. And there are no days off. It takes a significant mental, physical, emotional and financial toll on caregivers and their families.

The clinic will provide distressed caregivers with access to caregiver training, group therapy and individual counselling, and other support, all while their loved one is cared for by professionals.

With your support, we can expand this initiative into a sustainable model that will provide hope for caregivers and their families.

You can help bring the best in brain health research and care to BC. Learn more about Brain Breakthroughs. It’s About Time.

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