April is Stress Awareness Month. Did you know that as a family caregiver, you are at risk of suffering from something called caregiver stress? It’s a condition that happens because of the physical and emotional strain that being a caregiver puts on you. It’s a dangerous condition because it can lead to physical and mental illness. Caregiver stress has been shown to cause a weakened immune system and lead to depression and anxiety. Recognizing the symptoms of caregiver stress in yourself can help you get the support and care you need.
Are You Likely to Develop Caregiver Stress?
Anyone who provides unpaid care for another person, such as an elderly family member, can suffer from caregiver stress. In addition to being a caregiver, there are other risk factors that make it more likely for someone to develop caregiver stress.
Some of the risk factors are:
- Being a woman.
- Less formal education.
- Having the person you provide care for living in your home, or living in theirs.
- Being socially isolated, which means you don’t see other people often.
- Having existing depression.
- Money problems.
- Spending more hours caregiving.
- Not having a choice in being a caregiver.
How Do You Know if You Have Caregiver Stress?
Sometimes recognizing the symptoms of caregiver stress can be difficult because you’re too busy worrying about the health of the person you are caring for.
Some signs that you are suffering from caregiver stress are:
- Feeling frustrated, angry, and helpless.
- Making mistakes while caregiving, such as mixing up medicines.
- Engaging in unhealthy behaviors, like drinking or relying too heavily on sleeping pills.
- A feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much.
- Changes in weight.
- Lack of interest in activities you enjoy or in being with family and friends.
- Getting irritated or angry easily.
- Physical symptoms, like headaches and body aches.
What Can You Do About Caregiver Stress?
If you are experiencing caregiver stress, there are things you can do to alleviate it.
Some tips for dealing with caregiver stress are:
Gain Knowledge: Learn as much as you can about the condition your aging relative has and better ways to care for them. You may be able to take caregiving classes through your local hospital. You can also check with your community’s senior center.
Get Help with Caregiving Duties: Ask friends and family members to help you with caregiver tasks. You may need to be specific about what you need, such as asking people to prepare meals, spend a few hours with the senior so you can take a break, or take them to a medical appointment. If friends and family members aren’t available, consider contacting a home care agency.
Join a Support Group: Caregiver support groups are an excellent place to vent your feelings about being a caregiver. They can help you to see that you are not alone.
You may need help overcoming caregiver stress. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling, especially if you have symptoms of depression. The doctor may be able to prescribe medication or refer you to a counselor.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Rochester NY, contact the caring staff at Caring Hearts of Rochester today! Serving Rochester, Pittsford, Greece, Webster, Canandaigua, Fairport, Perinton, Penfield, Brighton, Henrietta and surrounding communities. Call 585-245-0134.
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