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Caregiver Stress: Tips for Caring for Yourself

Caregiver Stress: Tips for Caring for Yourself

Caring for a loved one is tense, even for the most resilient. If you are a caregiver, take steps to maintain your own health and well-being.

Mayo Clinic Staff

As the population ages, more care is provided by non-medical professionals. About one in three adults in the United States provides care to other adults as an informal caregiver.

A caregiver is someone who provides assistance to someone in need, such as a sick spouse or partner, a child with a disability, or an elderly relative. However, families who are actively caring for the elderly often do not recognize themselves as “caregivers”. Recognizing this role helps caregivers get the support they need.

Long-term care is rewarding but stressful

There are many rewards for long-term care. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and what you want to offer.

However, changes in roles and emotions are almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the mental and physical stress of long-term care — is common.

People who are experiencing caregiver stress may be vulnerable to changes in their health. The risk factors for caregiver stress are:

  • Live with the person you care for
  • Social isolation
  • Have depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Many hours spent on long-term care
  • Lack of coping skills and difficulty in problem solving
  • Lack of choice to become a caregiver

Signs of caregiver stress

As a caregiver, you may not realize that your health and well-being are suffering because you are focused on your loved ones. Be aware of these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Overwhelmed or always worried
  • Often feel tired
  • Too much sleep or insufficient sleep
  • Weight gain and loss
  • Easy to get frustrated or angry
  • Lose interest in the activities you enjoyed
  • Sad mood
  • Have frequent headaches, body aches, or other physical problems
  • Abuse of alcohol and drugs, including prescription drugs

Excessive stress can harm your health, especially over the long term. As a caregiver, you are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep, physical activity, and you may eat a balanced diet. This increases the risk of medical problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress

The emotional and physical demands associated with long-term care can strain even the most resilient. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you take care of your loved ones. Remember that you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

To manage caregiver stress:

  • Accept help. Prepare a list of ways others can help you and let the helper choose what he or she wants to do. For example, a friend may offer to take a person who cares for you for a walk several times a week. Alternatively, friends and family may be able to get things done, receive groceries, and cook.
  • Focus on what you can offer. It’s normal to feel guilty from time to time, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Believe that you are doing your best and always making the best decisions you can make.
  • Set realistic goals. Divide a large task into smaller steps that you can perform one at a time. Prioritize, create lists, and establish your daily life. Start saying no to exhausted requests, such as hosting a holiday meal.
  • Connect Find out about care resources in your community. Many communities have classes, especially about the illnesses your loved ones are facing. Long-term care services such as transportation, meal delivery, and housekeeping may be available.
  • Join the support group. Support groups can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. The people in the support group understand what you are experiencing. Support groups are also a good place to build meaningful friendships.
  • Seek social support. Strive to stay connected with family and friends who can provide emotional support without judgment. Just take a walk with your friends and take time every week to connect.
  • Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water.

    Many caregivers have sleep problems. Failure to get a good night’s sleep over a long period of time can lead to health problems. Talk to your doctor if you can’t sleep well.

  • Please see a doctor. Get recommended vaccinations and screening. Be sure to tell your doctor that you are a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.

Respite care

It may be hard to imagine leaving a loved one to take care of someone, but taking a break is the best thing you can do for yourself and for the person you care for. It is one of. Most communities have access to some types of rest care, including:

  • Rest at home. A medical assistant will come to your home and provide dating, long-term care services, or both.
  • Adult care center and program. Some centers provide care for both the elderly and young children, and the two groups may spend time together.
  • A short-term nursing home. Some long-term care homes, memory care homes, and nursing homes accept people in need of short-term care while the caregiver is absent.

Caregiver working outside the home

Nearly 60% of caregivers work outside the home. If you work outside the home and you are a caregiver, you may start to be overwhelmed. If so, consider taking a vacation from your work for a while.

Employees covered by the Federal Family Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for their relatives. Contact your Human Resources department for unpaid leave options.

You are not alone

If you are like many caregivers, you are having a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to isolated, frustrated, and even depressed moods.

Leverage local resources for caregivers rather than struggling on their own. To get started, check out the Eldercare Locator or contact your local Aging Regional Authority (AAA) to learn about local services.You can find your hometown AAA Government section of online or phone book.

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