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Caregivers for People With Dementia Need a Break

Stress and burnout can put you and your loved one at risk, so arrange a respite

By Family Caregiver Alliance

Caring for anyone over a long period of time can be stressful.

If you care for a person with dementia, you face greater risks for health problems than other caregivers. You are particularly at risk for caregiver burnout—a state of mental and physical exhaustion brought on by the physical, mental, emotional and/or financial stresses of providing ongoing care, usually over a long period of time.

Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, digestive problems, depression, problems sleeping and social withdrawal.

Caregiver burnout puts both you and your loved one at risk. It is one of the most-cited reasons for caregivers placing a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.


One of the most effective ways to prevent caregiver burnout is by taking care of your physical health needs, as well as your mental and social health needs. Essential to meeting these needs is to schedule regular time off from your caregiving duties. If you do not have a neighbor, family member or friend nearby who can provide dependable weekly help, look into respite services in your community.

Respite literally means a rest—a break away from the demands of caregiving. Respite can be arranged for varying lengths of time—a few hours, overnight, a weekend, even for a week or longer. It can be provided in your home or in a facility such as adult day care or a nursing home. In-home attendants may be employed by an agency, self-employed or volunteers. Respite care can be arranged privately for a fee, paid for by some long-term care insurance policies, or sometimes provided by government or private organizations.

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Where to find support for caregivers
What is caregiving?

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