Caregivers for sick or elderly parents, spouses or other family members are critical for making loved ones feel comfortable and cared for. Any one who provides care or aides someone in need deserves recognition and support.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 80 percent of long-term care in the U.S. is provided by an informal caregiver. However, family members or loved ones often don't recognize the importance or stress related to the support they provide. For that reason, they may under-utilize tips or resources offered to caretakers of all types. Here are a few ways caregivers can help themselves avoid too much stress and offer the best possible care for their loved ones.
Signs of Stress
The Mayo Clinic reported that long or isolated hours of providing for a loved one can put caregivers at risk for high-levels of stress or depression. This may present itself in a number of ways. For example, caregivers may feel overwhelmed or worried, which can cause a lack of sleep or eating. Likewise, stress in caregivers can present itself in the opposite way, leading to feeling tired or hungry very often.
Focusing solely on a sick or ailing loved one can also leave caregivers feeling sad or depressed, which may led to frequent headaches or bodily pain. Stressed caregivers can also be more irritable, lose interest in social activities or hobbies and may end up abusing drugs or alcohol.
Because caregivers may ignore their own suffering, they may in turn provide lower quality care or support as well as put themselves at risk. Identifying stress is important for caregivers, as is finding ways to alleviate it.
Caregiver Stress Control
According to Help Guide one of the best ways to lower stress or anxiety as a caregiver is to identify and come to terms with how difficult the work can be. Feelings of anger, grief and sadness are to be expected while providing care for a family member, and accepting the complicated emotions that go into caring for a sick or ailing loved one is important. Sharing and discussing these feelings is a good way to make sure they do not overwhelm you as a caregiver.
Another important way to minimize stress is to take on help. Even as the primary caregiver for a loved one, there are other family members or friends that can support you. Providing detailed instructions when taking on help is important, but even having an extra person to give love and care for a family member in need can be very helpful. Primary caregivers should embrace support from family, friends or professionals.
Help Guide also reported that a major way to alleviate stress as a caregiver is to take time for yourself. Balancing the beautiful act of providing care to a loved one with your own needs is important for being the best possible caregiver. Finding time to relax, to socialize and to exercise, among other things, is critical for caregivers to remain happy and healthy. Community support groups for caregivers are also great for letting out stress and meeting like-minded peers, and November is National Family Caregivers Month.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living