Even the most tenacious people experience stress when caring for a loved one. In this article, we take a look at the measures you can take to maintain your own health and wellbeing as a caregiver.
As the population ages, people who do not have a background in healthcare are increasingly being called upon to take on more and more caring responsibilities. Data suggest that in the United States alone, about one in three people provide informal carers for other adults.
A caregiver is an individual who provides care to someone else, be it a friend, partner, relative or child. It is common that family members who provide active care for an older elder fail to perceive themselves as caregivers. It is only when they acknowledge this role that they will be able to access the support they need.
Giving care can be self-fulfilling… but demanding.
Giving care can be very rewarding. Being there for a loved one when they need you is a core value and something that most carers want to offer.
However, it’s almost inevitable that roles and feelings will change. It is normal for caregivers to experience frustration, loneliness, exhaustion, or depression. Caregiver stress, or mental and physical burnout as a result of providing care, is widespread.
Stressed-out caregivers may be more susceptible to changes in their own health and will not be in the right position to provide the right level of support to the people they are caring for.
In some situations, caregiving might cause you to become so preoccupied with your loved one that you fail to notice how your own health and wellbeing are being affected. Symptoms of burnout that you should be on the lookout for are as follows:
- Experiencing a sensation of anxiety or worry all the time
- Feeling drained and tired on an ongoing basis
- Sleeping excessively or insufficiently
- Putting on or losing significant amounts of weight
- Getting easily annoyed
- Suffering an ongoing lack of patience
- Losing enthusiasm for activities you once loved
- Experiencing a lot of headaches, discomfort, or other physical issues
- Abusing substances, such as drugs or alcohol
Your health might be harmed by excessive stress, especially over an extended period. Additionally, the negative feelings you are experiencing as a result of stress may lead to a lack of sleep, exercise and nutrition, all of which could increase your chance of developing health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Techniques to Reduce Caregiver Stress
Even the most resilient individual can become overburdened by the mental and physical responsibilities of providing care. As such, it is imperative that you take advantage of the numerous information and tools that are readily available to assist you in caring for your loved one. Do not forget that you cannot care for others if you do not take care of yourself.
Reduce the Strain You Work Under
Be prepared to accept help from others. Have a list of ways that people can assist you, and then let them choose what they would want to do. For instance, a friend might offer to go for weekly walks with the person you’re caring for. Alternatively, a relative might be able to cook batch meals for you, pick up your groceries, or run errands.
Accept Your Limitations
Although it’s common to occasionally feel guilty, it is important that you recognise that nobody is a “perfect” caretaker. Keep in mind that you are always trying your best and choosing the best course of action. Research your insurance for home health care options to secure coverage in the eventuality that things do not quite go according to plan.
Set Attainable Objectives
Large jobs should be broken down into manageable, solitary steps. Make lists, set priorities, and create a daily schedule. Start declining requests that put additional strain on you; for example, cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
Maintain a Network With Other Carers
Learn about the community resources available for caring. There are numerous communities that offer support to caregivers. There may be caregiving services on offer to support you, including housekeeping, meal delivery, and transportation.
Sign up for a Support Group
A support group can offer affirmation, inspiration, and techniques for dealing with challenging circumstances. Support group members can relate to what you might be going through. Making deep friendships can also be facilitated by joining a support group.
Enlist the Assistance of Others
Make an effort to maintain close relationships with loved ones and friends who can provide compassionate emotional support. Every week, set aside some time to connect, even if it’s just for a quick walk with a friend.
Plan Your Own Health Objectives
For instance, make it a point to find time to exercise most days of the week, develop a healthy eating plan, and drink lots of water.
Visit Your Doctor
Many carers have trouble falling asleep. Long-term poor sleep can have negative effects on one’s health. Consult your doctor if you’re having difficulties sleeping well.
Obtain the appropriate screenings and immunisations. Please let your doctor know that you are a caregiver. Mention any worries or symptoms you may have without holding back.
Take a Break
You may find it difficult to leave your loved one in someone else’s care, but taking a break can be important for both yourself and the person you’re caring for. Most areas offer some form of respite care, including home-based respite, adult daycare facilities and services, long-term care facilities, and external agency support.
Manage Your Commitments
Many caregivers also have a job in addition to being responsible for caring for others. You may start to feel overburdened if you care for someone while working outside the home. If so, consider taking a temporary leave of absence from work
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, to care for family members, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Inquire through your human resources department.