Alzheimer's Support Network


Stress can save our lives in life-and-death situations.  But prolonged stress, without relief is a destructive force wreaking havoc on our bodies.

When we are under prolonged stress our ability to think logically and clearly is compromised.  The chances of making a good decision diminish, and the likelihood of making a rash, emotional decision increase.  When we are stressed our bodies, our physiology works against us.

The good news is stress has multiple treatments, and many are free.  The cure for stress is learning how to RELAX.  For a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s this may seem like an impossibility.  And that is the problem. 

“Relax?  I have to go to the bank to ask them to stop payment on the check my Alzheimer’s husband wrote last night to the Nigerian Prince.  And then I have to go pick up special diapers which they only carry in the store across town.  And if I don’t get the one type he likes, then he won’t wear them.  And then I have to pick up his new prescription which is going to cost us $100 more a month then we have to spend.  So, I have to go the jeweler to sell  my grandmother’s silver, which she carried with her from the old county.  And I have to be back at the house before my neighbor has to leave, because if I leave him alone he’ll call 911 and tell them I’m not being nice to him.  And now you are telling me to relax?”

The reasons to be stressed are clear.   You will not be able to eliminate all the things in your life that produce stress.  But what you can do is learn how to relax in the face of stress.

This workshop is intended to encourage you to think about what you will do to help you relax when you are stressed.  And more, it’s intended to help you plan for these stressful times when they come.   Just as you pre-plan for a hurricane by collecting batteries, water, and a weather radio; you can pre-plan for stress.  The best way to do so is to build up good habits that allow you to relax, and shortcut your body’s responses to stress before they occur.   

What Works:

Breathe.  Learning to do proper deep breathing will be your best friend in fighting uncontrolled stress.

Allow yourself a Moment of Peace.   Take the time to refocus your mind.  Take the time to stop and smell the flowers, watch the sunset, listen to a soothing song.  Building these moments of peace into your daily life will break up the otherwise unending avalanche of stress. 

Smile and Laugh.  It’s hard to fear for your life and have a good belle laugh at the same time.   And that’s what stress is designed to do in nature.  It allows you to  stand and fight or run away when confronted by life and death situations.   Laughing breaks that momentum of stress.   Laugher is the body’s instant reset button. 

 Exercise.   The benefits of exercise are so well documented they do not need to be stated here.  We all know that exercise is good for us.  We all know exercise reduces stress.   So why don’t we do it?  Usually because it’s not a planned as part of our day.    Once it’s built into our daily routine, then the commitment to exercise isn’t itself a chore.  Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and somber.  It can be fun.  What wil you do to make exercise fun for you?

Rest and Sleep.  Staying up two extra hours to get things done, often means you are trying to do things while you are too tired to think.  So a chore that would take half an hour when rested, will take your tired brain an hour to achieve.   Rest pays off in the end. 

Journaling.   Writing can be a cathartic exercise.  Simply expressing your emotions, giving voice to them can free these emotions from your mind and body.

Mediation and Massage.   Mediation has centuries of practice to tout it's benefits.  The value of massage is so well accepted it has found it's way into hospital recovery rooms.

Eat healthy and Avoid bad habits.

Treat yourself.


What will you put in your Emergency Stress Kit?

Breathe.  How about simple instructions on how to do deep breathing. 

A Moment of Peace.   How about a CD of relaxing music; some of your favoriate songs.  A good book.

Smile and Laugh.   A few photos of a wonderful time.  A DVD of  a great comedy you can watch again and again.

Journaling.   A simple piece of paper will do.

Mediation and Massage.  Massage oils.  A CD of guided mediation.

Treat Yourself.  How about a scented candle and a bubble bath.

Managing Stress

What is the purpose of Stress in Nature?

Anti Stress Tricks:  Breathe, Shake it out, Stretch it out

Mayo Clinic's use of Massage after cardiovascular surgery

Anti-Stress Software

Put on calming music - Take time to enjoy the sites
(photos by Debbie Fulton)

Remember to Laugh

Laughter is good for Dementia Patients Study Finds

Stress and Memory

Foods the Reduce Stress

Avoid unneeded Stressors

How to Stop a Panic Attack

Don't Stress out when a friendly seal tries to take off your diver's mask

The Benefits of Smiling

            Pets can drive the stress away                            Pets can cause Stress too, but can you laugh?


Remember to Play

             Warning: People resort to bad habits when stressed          Are you Paying Attention to what you need to?

Exercise is a great stress reducer - and it can be fun

Take time to smell the roses

Get Enough Rest

                           Dealing with Stress                                                     Meditation

Relaxation Meditation