Anxiety is common among people who are caregivers for a spouse, parent, or other loved one. Being in charge of another person’s care and well-being is a big responsibility. Additionally, there can be added sorrow from watching the health of someone close to you change. While caregivers might not want to admit or acknowledge how they are feeling, ignoring anxiety can have serious consequences.
Learning how to recognize early warning signs that you may be experiencing caregiver anxiety and taking a proactive approach to manage stress may help you avoid a health-related crisis of your own.
What Causes Caregiver Anxiety?
Most of us feel anxious from time to time. It might be an important job interview, or when you are about to give a speech in front of a large crowd. Anxiety is a part of everyday life.
For caregivers, however, anxiety can become all-consuming. Caregivers often worry about the following:
- Their skills: A caregiver might be concerned that they aren’t managing their loved one’s medical needs properly or are overlooking important symptoms that need to be treated. The more complex the care needs, the more likely a caregiver is to doubt their skills and be anxious about their perceived shortcomings.
- Finances: When a loved one’s health is declining, the cost of copays, medications, insurance deductibles, and medical equipment can quickly add up. Added to that is the likelihood that the caregiver has had to cut back on their work hours or give up their job entirely. It’s easy to see how stress about finances is a concern for many caregivers.
- Juggling multiple responsibilities: One in six family caregivers work full- or part-time. Many also have children of their own still living at home. Juggling so many important roles can be physically and emotionally exhausting. That can leave a caregiver feeling weary and anxious.
If you are a caregiver and notice yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, agitated, or distracted, there are steps you can take to get your life back on an even keel.
4 Ways to Manage Caregiver Anxiety
- Address issues individually: Pinpointing the sources of your anxiety and finding ways to address them is one way to manage caregiver stress. Tackle each trigger one at a time until you begin to overcome your primary stressors. For example, if you are concerned you aren’t performing medical tasks properly, ask for clinical input. It might be that you can arrange for a skilled home healthcare nurse to visit your home a few times to teach you. Medicare will often cover these types of services.
- Caregiver support: Joining a caregiver support group will allow you to connect with peers who understand and can relate to your caregiving struggles. These relationships might be helpful in learning how to manage caregiver anxiety. Some caregivers find in-person meetings where you can voice your fears and concerns out loud to be best. Others find the anonymity and convenience of an online caregiver support group to be a more comfortable option.
- Practice mindfulness: While this one might take time to master, teaching yourself to live in the moment is a good way to beat stress. Learning about deep breathing techniques, meditation, or prayer might help you learn to focus on the task at hand and avoid worrying about what is next.
- Ask for help: Don’t feel guilty asking for and accepting help. Caregiving can be a very demanding role even if you don’t work or have children to care for. If your siblings or other family members don’t offer to help, ask them for assistance with specific tasks and chores related to your loved one’s care. If that doesn’t work, explore respite care programs that are available at assisted living communities nearby. Your loved one will be in capable hands while you take a break to care for yourself.
If you have questions about caregiving or would like to learn more about respite care, please call us at 888-434-4648. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or connect you with someone who can help!
Source: Sunrise Senior Living