6 months ago · navdeep · Comments Off on Three Levels of Support for Those Experiencing Caregiver Stress
There comes a time in everyone’s senior stage of life when they will need a little extra help doing basic tasks such as dressing, toileting, meal prep, cleaning, or assistance with medical support such as diabetes care. For many, it is too expensive to hire professional caregivers, so the responsibility often falls on the shoulders of family members, specifically adult daughters. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 40 million Americans provide caregiving services to adults over 50 each year, and daughters are two times more likely to take on this role.
Women’s role in society has long been to care for children and others, and while many women are happy to take on the responsibility, it does not come without challenges. In an AARP survey, they found that more than 50% of the respondents worked full-time in addition to caregiving for a loved one. Additionally, 60% of those respondents reported that their job was negatively affected because of their additional caregiving duties outside of work. This highlights the need to support family caregivers in any way possible, as caring for your parents or senior loved ones should not be a lonely task. This article explores the adverse effects caregiving can have on individuals and ways to manage stress.
What is Caregiver Stress Syndrome?
Caregiver stress syndrome is a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Caregivers often neglect their own physical and mental health because they focus on their patients. The constant demands of caregiving often result in caregiver burnout. Some caregivers may place unreasonable expectations of themselves, refusing to ask for help because they think they can do it alone or don’t want to burden others. Or, the caregiver may become frustrated with the inability of their loved one to care for themselves. Often, financial stress plays a role in caregiver stress.
Common symptoms of caregiver stress include:
- Constant worry
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Problems with sleep, either insomnia or sleeping too much
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Sadness and feeling hopeless
- Loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs, including abusing prescription drugs
Stress from caregiving has numerous health outcomes. Anywhere between 40-70% of caregivers suffer from depression or anxiety. Anger, frustration, and irritability can contribute to high blood pressure, compromised immune system, or diabetes.
The Facts About Caregiver Stress Syndrome
Putting numbers to caregiver stress syndrome shows how severe and pervasive this problem is. Depression and mental health problems are much higher for caregivers, especially those taking care of someone with dementia.
Stress and frustration are common for caregivers:
- 16% are emotionally strained
- 26% claim taking care of their loved one takes an emotional toll
- 22% are exhausted each night when they go to bed
The challenges of caring for a loved one lead to many adverse effects for caregivers.
Three Ways Caregivers Can Deal With Stress
Ask For Help or Seek Respite Care
Identifying caregiver stress syndrome is the first step in lightening your load. Contact local agencies that offer respite care or support groups for caregivers. Your local agency on aging may have resources for you. Respite care can include hiring a home health aide for a few hours each day or enrolling your loved one in an adult day care program. Or, you may offer to exchange a few hours of care with another local caregiver. When you have time off, focus on activities that can help you rest and recharge, taking care of your mental and emotional health.
Seek Help From Local Support Programs
Try to lighten your load by asking for help and support. For example, your community may have meal deliveries for homebound people, transportation, or assistance with chores and the activities of daily living. Many programs are free or low-cost.
Ask Your Employer To Support You
Talk to your employer if you work, and ask about your resources at work. Some employers have an Employee Assistance Program to help you treat your mental health. Or, you may be eligible for the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which can be used for a few days or weeks at a time. Flex-time and work-from-home opportunities may also help you.
Check Out Our Recent Wellness Blog For More Stress Tips
We recently wrote a blog where we shared ways for caregivers to improve their mental health and wellness. We shared many tips on managing the responsibilities of caregiving while also caring for yourself, such as meditation tips, relaxing activities, and self-care tips. Check it out for more details on reducing the burden that caregiving often brings.
You Are Not Alone. Help Is Here.
Are you a caregiver who is in need or under stress? Join the Tribute Senior Living caregiver support group! This is a safe place for people like you to share your experiences and challenges with caring for an infirm loved one. They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to care for an aging loved one or one suffering from cognitive decline. Proper self-care can help reduce stress and make you a better caregiver. As always, please get in touch with us with any questions you may have.