Caring for a loved one can be rewarding, but also comes with difficulty. The changes in the family dynamic, mounting finances from medical care, household disruption, all piled on top of your already hectic workload can contribute to a caregiver’s high stress level that can eventually lead to burnout.
The stress and burnout can be particularly damaging to caregivers’ health due to its consistency over a long period of time. Often, people care for their loved ones for years or even decades. Without ample support, the surmounting stress can attribute to various physical and emotional complications, ranging from insomnia to heart disease.
According to Help Guide Organization, the common signs and symptoms of caregiver’s stress are anxiety, irritability, depression, fatigue, insomnia, snapping at people due to minor nuisances, new or worsening health conditions, difficulty concentrating, increased feelings of resentment, overeating, substance abuse, neglecting responsibilities and straying from leisure activities.
Caregiver burnout can attribute to decreased energy, low-level immune response to colds and flu, chronic fatigue, neglecting personal needs due to lack of interest or a busy schedule, inability to relax even with available support and reoccurring feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
According to AARP, one of the first steps to managing caregiver stress is to tend to your personal needs first. This means eating nutritious meals, avoiding stress-driven urges like overindulging in food or finding comfort in alcohol or drug dependency. Make sure you find time to exercise and schedule regular medical check-ups. You should also set aside 30 minutes everyday to meditate, listen to music or do something you enjoy to keep you energized and motivated.
Seek additional assistance. Unless you are the next Clark Kent, you do not posses the powers to be everywhere and do everything at once by yourself. Sit down and write out responsibilities to delegate to friends and relatives, or look into geriatric care management to coordinate all aspects of your loved one’s care. Spreading the responsibility is the only way to ensure that you and your loved one are getting the optimal care and support you both need.
Finally, it’s important to manage your feelings and stay positive. Bottling up your emotions can take a significant toll your physical and mental well-being. Talk to your friends, family members or coworkers who are in similar situations, seek out a professional counselor or join a caregiver support group. Do your best to avoid negativity by not dwelling on what you can’t do, recognize how much good you are doing and focus on the rewards that come with caring for someone you love.
P&P representatives are available to assist caregivers secure the geriatric care services and home healthcare aides to assist you with care for your loved ones. For more information about these or our other services, please contact us at 516-541-4770 or by email.