Taking care of a loved one can be very rewarding and demanding all at once. If a caregiver starts to feel as if they are in over their heads or have lost control of the situation, caregiver stress and burnout can start to set in. Caregiver stress is common among family caregivers. One major factor for this is because they do not want their loved one to feel like they are burden on them.
If the stress of a caregiver is not relieved it can have harmful effects on the caregivers health, relationships, and state of mind. Most importantly caregiver stress can take away from the care you are providing for a loved one without you even knowing it. As a family caregiver you have dedicated your time to someone else, however it is still a necessity to make sure you are getting proper rest and relaxation while balancing the responsibilities of your life.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress
Recognizing the signs of a stressed caregiver is the first step in fixing problem. Be aware of the following warning signs and symptoms:
- Constantly tired and run down, lack of energy
- Depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Felling helpless and hopeless
- Difficulty sleeping
- New or deteriorating health conditions
- Breast Cancer
- Becoming increasingly resentful
- Excessive alcohol or tobacco use
- Uncontrollable eating
- Neglecting responsibility
- Reduction in leisure activities.
Ironically many of the symptoms of caregiver stress are identical to the reason your loved one needs home care. Ultimately you will not be able to provide care for a loved one if you end up needing care yourself.
How To Beat Caregiver Stress
Taking on the challenging duty of a family caregiver without the assistance of other family members, outside assistance, or regular breaks is a almost guaranteed to result in caregiver burnout and stress. Below are some ways to ease caregiver stress.
- Speak Up. Create conversation, you can not expect friends or family members to know how you are feeling or if your are overwhelmed due to caring for a loved one. Be honest and upfront about why you are stressed and burned out. Give your opinion on how to improve the situation, even if you know other family members may not agree.
- Share The Responsibility. Get as many family members involved as possible. Even distance relatives have been known to share the responsibility. If there are not many family members available, ask close friends for help too. Divide the caregiver tasks. One person could be responsible for Doctor visits. While another person could be responsible for paying bills and meal preparation. Divide the task as evenly as possible with all the available caregivers.
- Regular Check In. It is impossible for a family caregiver to be available around the clock. During times when you are not available ask a friend or family member to check in your loved one. This check in can be once a day, once a week, or as frequent as you need it. This will help coordinate the status of your loved one with other family members and caregivers.
- Say “Yes”. Don’t be shy or ashamed when someone offers help. It is extremely hard for one caregiver to provide all the care a loved one needs. Accept help with open arms. Also leave small task such as cleaning and taking out the trash for your help to make your job easier.
- 30 Minute Rule: If you provide care for a loved one the requires almost constant care, set aside 30 minutes a day for yourself. Use the 30 minutes to do things you enjoy. These 30 minutes can be used to read your favorite book, or to take a walk in the park. Giving yourself at least 30 minutes a day can greatly reduce stress and clear your day.
- Laugh. Laughter is a great stress reliever. Also minimal laughter can go a long way when trying to raise your spirits. Watch a funny movie or talk to a funny friend. Do anything you can to find humor in everyday situations.
- Don’t Focus On Things You Can’t Control. As much as we would like to, we can’t wish away a loved ones cancer or force our sister to help out more. Instead of stressing over things you cannot control focus on things you can control. Make sure your loved is comfortable and getting the best care possible.
- Home Care. Home Care is always a great option if caregiver stress has gotten the best of you. Home Care can virtually eliminate the stress associated with a home bound loved one. Home Care companies will formulate a care plan tailored to your loved ones specific needs and provide the one on one care your loved one requires. Home Care will leave you with an overwhelming feeling of comfort when you are not available to care for a loved one.
If you realize caregiver stress has set in, remember the stress can be relieved. Whether you ask other family members for help, incorporate Home Care, or reach out to local support groups. It is important to remember while taking care of a loved one, you must continue to also take care of you!