Coping Strategies For Dealing With Houston Caregiver Stress
Although being a caregiver is rewarding, it also is physically and emotionally draining. Along with caring for your loved one, it is important to pay attention to your own health. That way, you will have the necessary strength and resilience to provide the person in your care with the attention that they need.
The number of elderly people in the U.S. who require care is on the rise. Today, that care is largely being provided by untrained professionals rather than healthcare workers. In fact, approximately a third of all adults in the U.S. spend at least a portion of their time acting as caregivers for others.
The term “caregiver” is used to describe someone who provides support and assistance to another person, whether that is an elderly relative, a spouse, or a child with special needs. Oftentimes, however, people who are caring for elderly adults don’t view themselves as caregivers. Sadly, that means that they often don’t get the support needed to effectively care for themselves as well as their loved one.
Acting As A Caregiver Is Both Gratifying & Demanding
There are a lot of things to love about being a caregiver. Spending time with a loved one helping them out during their time of need can be a truly rewarding experience.
At times, however, it also can be extremely stressful. It is normal for caregivers to experience feelings of frustration, anger, loneliness, and sorrow. They often wind up exhausted, physically and mentally drained from focusing so much on the needs of another person.
Caregiver stress is a very real condition that can have negative health implications. Some of the factors that can increase the likelihood of this type of stress occurring include the following:
- Living in the same home as the person you are taking care of
- Becoming socially isolated
- Suffering from depression
- Struggling with financial issues
- Having difficulty with problem-solving or having poorly-developed coping strategies
- Being forced into the role of being a caregiver
- Not completing any higher education
Symptoms Of Caregiver Stress
It is easy to get so caught up in caring for someone else that you don’t notice that your own health is declining. Some of the symptoms of caregiver stress include the following:
- Worrying all the time or feeling completely overrun
- Regularly experiencing fatigue or exhaustion
- Sleeping too much or not getting an adequate amount of sleep
- Weight changes
- Being quick to anger or getting irritated at the slightest annoyance
- No longer being interested in things that you once found enjoyable
- Regularly experiencing feelings of sadness or sorrow
- Suffering from chronic headaches, unexplained pain in your body, or other issues that affect your physical health
- Using drugs or alcohol in an inappropriate way
Suffering from high levels of stress for a long time can take a toll on your health. Caregivers are at an increased risk of developing problems with anxiety or depression. They may also neglect their own health, failing to get adequate nutrition, not sleeping enough, or not getting enough exercise. Combined, all of these factors can lead to a higher risk of developing conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
How To Cope With Caregiver Stress
Even the toughest person can succumb to caregiver stress over time. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there that you can use to get the assistance that you need. Don’t feel selfish about taking time to focus on your own needs. Remember – unless you are healthy and happy, you won’t be able to provide adequate care for your loved one.
Some of the most effective ways to deal with caregiver stress include:
- Always take help if it is offered. Sit down and write a list of all of the things that you need help with. That way, if someone offers to lend a hand, you can refer to your list to find something useful for them to do. As an example, perhaps one of your family members could help you out with running errands or could cook a couple of meals each week to take some of the strain off of your shoulders.
- Pay attention to the positive things you are doing. Experiencing feelings of guilt is normal when you are a caregiver. It is impossible to do everything perfectly when you are caring for someone else. The key is to focus on the positive impact that you are having on your loved one’s life. Even if you sometimes get things wrong, acknowledge that all of your actions come from a place of love and that you are doing the best that you can.
- Be reasonable when setting goals. Don’t try to do too much. If you have large items on your to-do list, try breaking them down into smaller, easier tasks. Figure out what your priorities are at the beginning of the day. Don’t be afraid to say no. For instance, if someone asks if you can host a large family dinner for the holidays, turning them down is perfectly fine.
- Search for caregiver resources in your area. Take advantage of any resources that are out there such as housecleaning, food delivery, or free transportation.
- Consider finding a local support group. Joining a group of other caregivers can be a good way to stay positive. In a group like this, everyone can relate to what you are experiencing, which can give you a sense of community. You may even make some lifelong friends.
- Reach out to friends and family members for support. It is easy to become socially isolated when you are working as a caregiver. Make an effort to stay connected with your loved ones. Pencil in time to get together with friends or to visit with your family members. These breaks will help keep you grounded and will provide much-needed stress relief.
- Prioritize your own health. Each week, set goals related to your health. For instance, you may want to set a goal to exercise several days each week or to make healthier food choices.
- Address any sleep issues. Long-term sleep deprivation can increase the risk of a variety of different health problems. If you haven’t been sleeping as well as you should, consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options.
- Get in for regular checkups. Staying on top of your own health is important. When you visit your doctor, let them know that you are acting as a caregiver. If you have been experiencing any physical or mental problems, don’t be afraid to bring them up during your appointment.
Look Into Respite Care
Although you may balk at the thought of having another person care for your loved one, getting away for a little bit is a great way to recharge your batteries. It also provides a break for the person in your care, giving them someone new to talk to. You can find a variety of different respite services including:
- In-home respite care. With this option, a home health aide will come to your loved one’s home and stay with them, providing medical care or social support.
- Adult care facilities. Many facilities offer daytime care or activities for aging adults. In some cases, seniors spend time with young children at these facilities, which is a great way for them to have fun.
- Short-term care at nursing homes or assisted living facilities. If you need to leave for a short period of time, many of these facilities have short-term care services available.
Working While Acting As A Caregiver
More than half of all caregivers also hold jobs. If you are working while serving as a caregiver, it is easy to feel overburdened. If possible, consider taking time off work to give yourself a little bit of a break.
Don’t Try To Go It Alone
Caregivers often have difficulty asking for assistance when they need it. Sadly, this can leave you feeling lonely and overwhelmed.
Instead of trying to take on everything yourself, reach out for help. Assisting Hands Houston is a great place to start. Give us a call right away to learn more about the services that we provide.
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