Joys and Stress of Being an Alzheimer's Caregiver - Mental Health Newsletter

Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:


We're focusing on the mental health of caregivers, specifically Alzheimer's caregivers, but much of the information below is really applicable to any kind of caregiver. Whether you care for a loved one or you do it for a living, yes, being a caregiver can be rewarding but it's a very stressful job.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, caregiver stress appears to affect women more than men. About 75 percent of caregivers who report feeling very strained emotionally, physically, or financially are women.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease can be especially challenging because of the behaviors, like aggressiveness, hallucinations and wandering, that are associated with the disease. Most behavior problems experienced by Alzheimer's patients pose serious difficulties for the person trying to provide care.

HealthyPlace Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, notes that although most caregivers are in good health, it is not uncommon for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients to have serious mental health and health problems.

Additional Insights into Alzheimer's Caregiving:

"Joys and Stress of Being an Alzheimer's Caregiver" On HealthyPlace TV

Barry Green is a motivational speaker. For many years, he cared for his father who had Alzheimer's Disease. Like many Alzheimer's caregivers, some days were extremely stressful. But  Barry learned a powerful lesson from that and he'll share that with us on Tuesday's HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

Join us Tuesday, August 18, at 5:30p PT, 7:30 CST, 8:30 EST. The show airs live on our website. Barry Green will be taking your questions during the live show.

In the second half of the show, you get to ask Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, your personal mental health questions.

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Still to Come in August on the HealthyPlace TV Show

  • My Partner Has Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Suicidality and Psychiatric Medications

If you would like to be a guest on the show or share you personal story in writing or via video, please write us at: producer AT

Click here for a list of previous HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Shows.

How To Tell If Caregiving is Putting Too Much Stress on You

Symptoms of Caregiver Stress

  • feeling overwhelmed
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • feeling tired most of the time
  • loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • becoming easily irritated or angry
  • feeling constantly worried
  • often feeling sad
  • frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
  • abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs

Talk to a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health professional right away if your stress leads you to physically or emotionally harm the person you are caring for.

Prescription Assistance: Getting Help Paying for Your Psychiatric Medications

I probably don't have to tell you. Psychiatric medications, (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs) are extremely expensive. They can run from hundreds of dollars to a couple of thousand dollars a month.

Rachel writes us:

I've been in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks because I was feeling suicidal. The psychiatrist handed me some prescriptions for antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, but the pharmacist told me my insurance won't pay anything. The meds cost about $1300 for a one-month supply. I drove to the doctor's office to see if he would give me samples, but he ran out. I don't know what to do.

A day after we responded to Rachel's email, she wrote back to inform us she was checking herself into the county hospital. With no medications, she started feeling suicidal again. In a follow-up email, Rachel sounded a lot better. "The hospital's social worker hooked me up with medicaid and now I can get my meds."

As Rachel's story points out, in last-minute situations like this, getting payment assistance for your mental health medications is extremely stressful and difficult to obtain. But if it's not an emergency, there are programs for income qualifying people to help pay for medications.

Also, if you are watching a  medication ad on tv or see one in a magazine, usually they mention the contact info for people needing help in paying for their medication. Make sure to jot that down.

back to: Mental-Health Newsletter Index

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, August 18). Joys and Stress of Being an Alzheimer's Caregiver - Mental Health Newsletter, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: September 5, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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