Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Celebrated since 1949, this month, we come together to raise awareness of mental illness within our community. Here at Dementia Spring, we want to highlight the impact of mental illness amongst dementia caregivers.
For care partners, the impact of supporting a person living with dementia can be vast. Dementia caregivers are more apt to experience anxiety, depression and increased stress. Caregivers of people living with dementia are 30-40% more likely to experience anxiety and depression, compared to other caregivers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures. This heightened presence of anxiety and depression is especially found in spousal caregivers and caregivers of people with psychiatric disturbances in their dementia.
Oftentimes, caregivers of people living with dementia with psychiatric disturbances, have an increased risk of depression due to the challenges of these symptoms. Caregivers may lack the intimacy and rewarding nature that other caregivers may feel when these difficult symptoms are not present (Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures). Additional factors include the financial burden, a feeling of obligation to provide care and limited resources or supports available.
nterventions and treatments for mental illness amongst dementia caregivers can be difficult to access, due to the challenges that come with the disease. Recommended options are often counseling, support groups and respite. Due to challenges in finding coverage for caring for their loved one, it can be difficult to impossible to access these interventions. Some caregivers may begin to have more ease of finding support groups and counseling due to the increase in virtual options during the COVID19 pandemic.
Additional interventions can be participating in various art therapies alongside the person the caregiver is supporting. Many of the creative therapists that we have spoken with at Dementia Spring express the benefits of creative therapies to the caregiver. Oftentimes, caregivers are able to reconnect with their loved one as well as see their strengths brought to life.