Relaxation Techniques - Dementia Caregiver Web Support
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Dementia Caregiver Web Support


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Relaxation Techniques

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Caregiver's Stress

Stress is our body’s natural response to situations that change our sense of well-being.  Caring for a loved one with dementia can be especially stressful.  Having stress over time can lead to negative health effects such as high blood pressure, anxiety, or depression. 

Before reading the content on this page, it may be beneficial to review the following video(s) from the Office of Rural Health (ORH).

Relaxation Techniques
Length: 09:33 (Link opens new window)
Margaret and Annie learn techniques to help them cope.

Preventing stress is a key to maintaining your well-being as a caregiver.

Preventing Stress depressed older woman

  • Although you are very busy, it is important that you set aside time to do things that you enjoy.  Make a list of activities that you enjoy doing with your loved one and include them in your daily routine.  This can reduce your stress and the stress that your loved one may be experiencing.
  • Regular exercise helps prevent and reduce stress.  If possible, include your loved one in simple exercises, such as walking around the block or slow stretches. Listening to calming music can also help.
  • Practice the signal breath and the guided imagery techniques shown in the relaxation video you will watch below.  These techniques can be used at any time during the day when you feel stressed.
  • Knowing what causes us to feel stress is important for our well-being. Keeping a log of things that make you and your loved one feel stressed-out will help you identify the cause(s) of stress and ways to manage it. A stress log does not need to be complicated! On the other hand, it can help you to identify ways to react to stressful events in a more productive way. In doing so, you will be better able to solve the problem and avoid stressful situations. We recommend that you keep separate stress logs for you and your loved one.

Here is a sample caregiver stress log.

What happened?
(stressful event)
When did it happen?
(date, time, situation, time of day)
What was my reaction?
Symptoms, thoughts, behaviors)
How did I respond?
(coping response)
Was the reaction helpful or non--helpful? Why?
Peter refuses to eat March 10 8:15 AM.
Everyday for past 10 days
Get frustrated, argue with him Try to force him to eat breakfast No. He gets angry and agitated. Doesn't eat more than 2 bites.
Utility company called about payment March 12, early afternoon Got angry, felt overwhelmed. I cannot handle this. Told caller to stop calling and to get a come watch Peter while I talk to the utility company. No, I felt like a fool after hanging-up

Click here to print the Stress Log.

How to use the stress log:

  • Read your notes to learn what makes you or your loved one feel stressed out and how often this happens.
  • Pay close attention to the notes you took on how you or your loved one react to the stressful event. Ask yourself which ways of coping are more effective and which just don't work.
  • Try to keep this journal for 2 weeks if you can. The more notes you take, the more you will understand how you and your loved one react to stress. If you are unable to keep the journal for 2 weeks, do it for a few days. Any note you take will be helpful!

Additional Resources  Collage of photos with pictures representing computers and the

VA Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA values your commitment as a partner in our pledge to care for those who have "borne the battle." We have several support and service options designed with you in mind. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for yourself and the Veteran you love.

Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC) is committed to optimizing the health and well-being of Veterans with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability associated with chronic disease, agining or injury. This VA site reviews information on delirium, dementia and Alzheimer's care, decision making, home and community based services, and advance care planning, among many other important topics that may be important for you as a caregiver.

Veteran's Crisis Line Phone: 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans Press 1)

The VA does not endorse the following resources or guarantee that their information is 100% accurate.  However, you may be able to find some helpful information by visiting the following pages:

AARP: Caregiver Resource Center
Find tips on how to care for yourself as a caregiver.

Alzheimer's Association: Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center
Review the information under the Caregiver Health section for more information on how to care for yourself as a caregiver.

AlzOnline: Caregiver Support Online
Find additional information on caregiver support.

References: Information adapted from Alzheimer’s Association anf Office of Rural Health
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.