Caregiver Stress and Memory Challenges

It is not unusual for a caregiver, young or older, to comment on their memory lapses. As one daughter stated, she forgot to renew her driver’s license, something she had never done before. It was even on her calendar. One of her family members jokingly said to her that perhaps she was getting Alzheimer’s disease like her mother and grandfather had. At 50 years of age this was understandably very upsetting to her and she admitted it did cross her mind.

One of the things I explained to her was the impact of stress on a person’s memory. When we talked further, it was apparent that this memory glitch occurred at the same time as her decision to look for an assisted living community for her mother. Once she moved her in, the family had to get her house ready for sale. She felt less fearful once she had a better understanding of what was a more likely cause of something important falling through the cracks.

Stress and overload can impact your memory and the caregiving role certainly adds to a person’s responsibility. When caregivers are willing to accept the help of others, their health is likely to be more stable and a few hours here and there to care for themselves can make a lot of difference. READ MORE

Some basic tips include exercising which is an excellent way to help reduce stress hormones. That is often one of the first things to go when a person has too much to do and too little time. Even if you cannot do your entire routine, make time for five to ten minutes here and there, increasing it whenever you can.

Refer to this blog series on caregiver stress and memory for additional information and suggestions on topics such as having a “gatekeeper” or creating a caregiver wish list.

The innocent comment by a family member triggered some unsettling feelings when a bit more understanding may have resulted in some needed support for the daughter who obviously was on overload. Share these resources with caregivers or their loved ones including Because You Care: What to Do When You Do Not Know What to Do  for some ideas on ways to be there when a caregiver is on overload.

I expect to pass through the world but once. 
Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show
to any creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Stephen Grellet

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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