Taking care of a sick, disabled or elderly person can be quite exhausting, and could take a physical as well as emotional toll on the caregiver. It is important to not take caregiver stress lightly, but to address it as early as possible before it seriously affects the caregiver’s quality of life.
Identifying Caregiver Stress
It is estimated that over 65 million Americans are caring for a loved one. If you are a caregiver, look for the following signs to know if you are stressed:
- Getting more sleep or less sleep than normal
- Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight
- Irritable feeling and a sense of being overwhelmed
- Not having interest in the activities that you once loved
You need to address these signs of caregiver stress before you become overwhelmed and unable to cope. Caregiver stress can be both physical and emotional and could lead to medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Anxiety or depression could also seriously affect mental functioning.
Dealing With Stress Physically
The key is to identify the factors responsible for the stress and learn to control and deal with them.
- The first thing is to ensure you maintain a balanced diet. Your diet should be nutritious and balanced. Take care that stress does not push you towards bingeing or drinking too much of alcohol.
- Exercising is very important and you must take time out each day for some physical activity such as jogging or a brisk walk, among other activities.
- Get regular medical check-ups.
Dealing With Stress Emotionally
To handle emotional dragons such as depression, anxiety and a sense of hopelessness, you need to ensure that you’re not alone all the time.
- Take time out to be with friends and family. This can be a massive stress-buster. Try to get out of the home, or wherever you’re giving care, and enjoy a walk with your friend, shopping, heading to the beach or any other fun idea you could think of.
- Sometimes you may need some kind of support in giving care. It’s great to get in touch with a support group where you can connect with other caregivers and get some tips, encouragement and, above all, a shoulder to lean on.
Seeking Professional Help
There are organizations that provide training on care-giving. Many such organizations deal with particular disorders. You could search for such organizations in your area. There are geriatric care centers that provide adult children with useful support services to help them manage the challenges involved with caring for their loved ones.
Asking for help is probably the most important protocol for a caregiver. You’re not a superman or superwoman. Accept that you cannot do everything by yourself, and get help.