Living well - Emotional wellbeing - Dealing with stress and anxiety

Recognizing when you are feeling stressed and anxious is an important first step. Learning as much as you can about dementia might help you ease your anxieties and prepare for the future. It might also help if you learn what stressful situations cause your anxiety. Take some time to enjoy the activities that you love, such as gardening and exercising. Reach out to your family and friends and tell them how you are feeling. If you have trouble dealing with your stress and anxiety, your doctor might be able to help.

Frequently asked questions

What are the common symptoms of stress and anxiety experienced by persons with dementia and care partners? Click for answer

Living with dementia, or supporting someone with dementia, can be stressful. Recognizing signs of stress in yourself or someone you care about is important. If the following symptoms occur on a regular basis, it is important that you contact your doctor or your local Alzheimer Society.

  • You are in denial about your dementia and its effect on you
  • You are angry at yourself and others
  • You are withdrawing socially from your friends and family and activities you once enjoyed
  • You are anxious about facing another day and about what the future holds
  • You feel sad and hopeless much of the time
  • You are exhausted, or don't have the energy to complete daily tasks
  • You have trouble sleeping or you wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares
  • You have emotional reactions such as crying at minor upsets and you are irritable
  • You have a hard time concentrating and focusing on tasks
  • You are experiencing more health problems (losing or gaining weight, getting sick more often, developing backaches or high blood pressure)

Source: List reprinted with additions with permission from Alzheimer Society of Cambridge. (2009). Reducing Caregiver Stress. Cambridge, Ontario, Canada: Alzheimer Society of Canada.

I think I am experiencing stress and anxiety, what should I do? Click for answer

There are things you can do to help maintain your health and wellbeing. It might be helpful to learn as much as you can about the disease. This will make it easier to understand how living with dementia can affect you or your loved one. Learning about dementia can also help you to adapt to any changes you are experiencing. It is also important to be realistic about how much you can do. Prioritize your activities by what you value most.

Learning to accept your feelings is also beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety. You may experience many different emotions which can seem confusing. But these emotions are normal. Sharing your emotions with your family members and friends may help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. It can also help create a greater understanding of what is happening, and how family members and friends can support you. For more information on managing stress, visit the Quality of life section of the website, under Tips and strategies for daily living.

Try to stay positive by focusing on what you can do, and not what you cannot do! Remember you can still experience special and rewarding times. The following is a list of strategies to help you stay healthy and positive:

  • Try to always look at the bright side of certain situations.
  • Keep your sense of humour. Laughing can be a good way to cope with stress.
  • Eat healthy meals and make sure to exercise regularly.
  • Schedule some time to relax every day.
  • Have regular appointments with your doctor.
  • Take time for your favourite interests and hobbies.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends to maintain connections and to prevent feeling lonely or isolated.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Try going to a support group.
  • Contact your local Alzheimer Society.
  • Plan for the future by reviewing your financial situation and your personal care choices.
  • Consider your future health decisions and record them. Also think about alternate plans for care if you are the care partner of someone with dementia. This can help to reduce your anxiety about the future. Refer to the Planning ahead section of this website.

Source: Compiled with permissions from Alzheimer Society of Cambridge. (2009). Reducing Caregiver Stress. Cambridge, Ontario, Canada: Alzheimer Society of Canada.