Firstly, it’s natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone, or sad. Secondly, Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common. Thirdly, we cover the risks, signs, and stress of the caregiver.
As a result, people who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health.
Some common risk factors for caregiver stress include:
• Living with the person you are caring for
• Social isolation
• Having depression
• Financial difficulties
• Higher number of hours spent caregiving
• Inadequacy of coping skills and difficulty solving
• Lack of choice in being a caregiver
Signs of Caregiving Stress
Consequently, as a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering.
Below are some signs of caregiver stress:
• Overwhelmed or constantly worried
• 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
Strategies for Dealing with Caregiver Stress
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. Therefore, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else. It’s important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help.
Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you.
Focus on what you are able to provide. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
Determine realistic goals. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Begin to say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Caregiving services such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping may be available.
Join a support group. A support group can provide validation, encouragement, and problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through.
Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
Set personal health goals. 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.
See your doctor. Get recommended vaccinations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.