Written By: Anysia J. Ensslen-Boggs, Ed.D., CCC-SLP


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 11 million unpaid caregivers caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in the United States. 18.4 billion hours of care, valued at $232 billion are provided by family and other unpaid caregivers. If you have ever cared for a family member with dementia or watched as another family member takes over as a primary caregiver, then you have first-hand knowledge of the complexity of this difficult situation.


Watch the video below to learn more about the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease:


There are several factors that place dementia caregivers at a higher risk of experiencing their own physical, emotional, and/or psychological problems.

Some of these risk factors include:

  • Being female
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver

If you are a caregiver yourself, or you are close to someone who is a caregiver, its important to be aware of the signs of caregiver “burnout”:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

To avoid “burnout” or breakdown it’s crucial that caregivers are encouraged to also take care of themselves. Even though it may be difficult at times, it’s important that caregivers are realistic about what they are able to provide to their loved one with dementia, and that they ask for help and additional resources if needed. Caregivers should also take the time to connect with others who understand what they’re going through. This can be accomplished by joining a support group or seeking out social support from friends and family. As always, caregivers should not forget to take care of their own health—make sure you keep up with doctor’s appointments, counseling appointments, and exercise/recreation. Remember, we can’t pour from an empty cup!

If you’re not ready to place your loved one in a skilled nursing facility or assisted living facility, don’t forget that other options are available.

  • In-home respite: Health care aides come to your home to provide companionship, nursing services or both
  • Adult care centers and programs: Some centers provide care for both older adults and young children, and the two groups may spend time together
  • Short-term nursing homes: Some assisted living homes, memory care homes and nursing homes accept people needing care for short stays while caregivers are away (this option has likely changed with COVID)

So, how do we make the difficult and sometimes heartbreaking decision to move our loved one out of their home and into a different level of care? Here are some guidelines:

  • Our loved one with dementia is displaying more consistent signs of aggression which pose a risk to family and caregivers
  • Extreme caregiver stress, often leading to resentment of the person with dementia
  • Escalating care needs (incontinence, total assistance with activities of daily living, non-ambulatory, unable to get into/out of bed on their own)
  • Wandering inside or outside the home, which becomes a safety issue
  • Our loved one with dementia has reached a point where they do not consistently recognize their home as their own


Remember, a person with dementia is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time. While caring for our loved ones with dementia, remember respect, grace, restraint. Take care of yourself while taking care of them!


Explore online continuing education courses from Anysia below:

Therapists Rehabilitation Strategies for Dementia Patients

Cleft Palate in the School-Age Population

Adult and Pediatric Voice Disorders

Improving Cognitive Communication Deficits

Stroke Recovery Strategies

The Therapist’s Role in Improving Pragmatic Language


Visit summit-education.com for more information.