An organization that connects caregivers and care seekers, providing an easy and affordable resource for families seeking care for friends/loved ones and caregivers seeking employment.
Part One – Caregiver Stress and How to Avoid it
“Caring for senior citizens or disabled individuals can be difficult and often results in emotional and physical strain known as caregiver stress. This stress can cause one to feel frustrated or angry, guilty, lonely, and exhausted. And, although caregivers are generally in good health, research indicates that caregivers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, have higher levels of stress-induced hormones, and have a higher incidence of obesity.
Still, one research study has found a difference in health between caregivers who felt stressed and those who did not. Senior citizens who felt stressed as a result of taking care of a disabled spouse were more likely to die within four years of the study than their counterparts who did not feel stressed. For reasons like this, it is important that caregivers providing elder care or care for a disabled individual understand how to avoid and cope with caregiver stress.
If you are a caregiver it is likely that you have caregiver stress if you experience the following symptoms:
* Altered sleeping habits
* Weight loss or gain
* Constantly feeling worried, overwhelmed, or sad
* Being irritable and easily angered
* Frequent and unexplainable headaches or other bodily pain
If you feel like physically or emotionally harming yourself or the person you are caring for, talk to your doctor immediately. He or she will be able to refer you to a health care specialist that can help.
Preventing and Alleviating Stress
Caregiver stress is associated with many serious health problems and should never be dismissed as “just stress.” Rather it is important that those providing care for senior citizens or disabled individuals take steps to reduce their stress.
Taking a problem-solving approach to caring for others helps to decrease stress. For example, if someone with Alzheimer’s continues to ask the same question again and again, answer the question but then redirect him or her. Say something like “Lets get this laundry started,” or include the person in a simple task like folding clothes.
If you are caring for someone with a certain disease or disability, be sure you understand their condition. Use your doctor, the library, or the Internet to educate yourself. Also, your hospital or doctor’s office may give classes that teach you how to take care of someone with the condition your loved one has.
Tips for Reducing Stress
* Research and use community resources that are available for both the person being cared for and the caregiver.
* Do not be afraid to ask for and accept help. Often, friends and family members are willing to provide assistance like taking the elderly or disabled person on a walk once a week or picking up groceries for you.
* Ask family members to contribute to the costs of taking care of the relative who needs help.
* Say “no” when necessary, it is important not to take on too much responsibility that can lead to additional stress.
* Identify what you are able to change and what you cannot. You cannot change another’s behavior, but you can change how you respond to it.
* Do not take on too much at once. Rather, break big tasks up into smaller steps and set realistic goals that you can stick to.
* If you begin to feel guilty, remind yourself that there is no such thing as a perfect caregiver and you are doing your best.
* Establish a daily routine and make prioritized “to do” lists.
* Stay connected with friends and family members, and make time each week to spend time with others in a capacity that is relaxing and enjoyable for you.
* Join a support group for caregivers; it can help remind you that you are not alone. Also, other caregivers can offer support and advice for how to cope with what you are going through.
* Finally, take care of yourself. Eat well-balanced meals, maintain a healthy weight, and get enough sleep. Talk with your doctor about any sickness or feelings of depression or anxiety that you may be experiencing. ”
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