Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Though caring for a loved one can be immensely fulfilling, it also comes with a lot of stress. As caregiving is generally a long-term commitment, the emotional toll may build up over time. You may be responsible for years, if not decades, of caregiving. Additionally, it may be especially distressing if there's little hope that your beloved one will get well, or if their condition is slowly deteriorating despite your best efforts.
Caregiving stress can have a negative impact on your health, relationships, and mental state, which may eventually lead to burnout, which is a condition of emotional, mental, and physical weariness. Consequently, this may affect both you and the person you are caring for, as you need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others.
Caregiver stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways. For example, one minute you may feel upset and angry, and the next, helpless. When delivering medications, it's possible that you'll make a mistake. Alternatively, you may engage in unhealthy activities such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.
Some of the signs and symptoms
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling alone or abandoned by others
- Too much or too little sleep
- Putting on or losing a significant amount of weight
- Feeling tired most of the time
- A lost of interest in things you used to appreciate
- Frequently becoming irritated or angered
- Feeling worried or upset often
- Have frequent headaches or bodily discomfort
Stress may be beneficial if it aids in your ability to cope with and respond to change or challenge. However, long-term stress, including caregiver stress, can cause major health issues.
The following are some of the ways stress affects caregivers:
✽ Anxiety and depression.
Anxiety and depression can increase chances of developing health issues including heart disease and stroke.
✽ Immune system is weakened
Caregivers that are under stress may have weakened immune systems and spend more days unwell with the cold or flu than non-caregivers.
✽ Risk for chronic illnesses is higher.
High stress levels, especially when paired with depression, might increase risk of developing health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis.
✽ Short-term memory issues or inability to pay attention.
Short-term memory and attention impairments are found to be more common in caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer's disease.
Some tips to cope with caregiver stress:
✽ Improve on management of tasks
Break the job down into smaller pieces and set achievable goals. Make a to-do list and establish a routine.
✽ Seek help from your family.
Recognize your own qualities and strengths. To ease the load of caregiving on yourself, gather your family members and discuss the allocation of tasks.
✽ Improve your knowledge and skills
Attend caregiver training to acquire essential skills and techniques like personal care for a bedridden senior or meaningful engagement with dementia patients. Gather information about your loved one's sickness, including how it's being managed, how it's progressing, and treatment choices that are available.
✽ Make a financial plan and budget for your expenses
By exploring the numerous financial aid programs available to help with the expense of treatment. Talk to a social worker about grants and initiatives if you're having financial issues.
✽ Participate in support groups to learn more about caregiving from other caregivers and to share caregiving advice.
✽ Consider respite care to give yourself a break from caring for others.
✽ Consult a professional
Consult your healthcare providers about the disease's course, treatment options, and how to care for your loved one at home. You can also go to them if you're feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving responsibilities.
✽ Speak with a therapist if you need help coping with your emotions from the stress.
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