Over 43 million individuals provide care for their midlife and older loved ones. These caregivers also feel tremendous burden and stress from providing care for patients with chronic illnesses. Some common risk factors include low educational attainment, residence with the care recipient, higher number of hours spent caregiving, depression, social isolation, financial stress, and lack of choice in being a caregiver. Feeling the impact of these stressors can be difficult to express, however it is very important to realize these stressors before it effects the caregiver’s quality of life. The following tips will help keep distress in check and allow for a healthier life while caregiving:
Caregiver Tips for Burden and Stress: #1. Focus on Your Physical Needs
With the stressors of caregiving, it is easy to forget to take care of your own self. Caregivers may not be getting enough sleep, eating poorly, or overindulging in alcohol. Tackle these poor choices by eating nutritious meals, exercising and sleeping regularly to avoid falling into depression. Be sure to also get regular check ups because it is also important to take care of yourself to be able to continue caregiving.
Caregiver Tips for Burden and Stress: #2 (Re)connect with Friends
While caregiving, it is easy to loose touch with other family and friends. This can also increase stress for the caregiver. Make time to get together with friends and relatives to keep negative emotions at bay. Share your feelings of frustration with friends and family for support.
Caregiver Tips for Burden and Stress: #3 Seek Help
Use all available resources! Do not put the entire burden of caregiving on yourself. It is okay to ask for help with simple tasks from friends and relatives. Even community or support groups are able to help you with caring for your loved one. Allow home health aides, homemakers and home repair services to take charge of some responsibilities of caregiving. Consider letting volunteers or staff from faith-based organizations or civic groups visit, cook or help you with driving.
Caregiver Tips for Burden and Stress: #4 Take It Easy
Take time to recharge your batteries. You deserve it. Meditate or practice other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualizing a positive place. For some, prayer can be a powerful tool, too. Learn about respite care by friends, relatives or volunteer- your ailing loved one may benefit from someone else’s company. Consider adult day care centers who will keep your loved on safe and under supervision.
Caregiver Tips for Burden and Stress: #5 Stay Positive
Try to stray away from any negativity. You may find yourself in conflicts between siblings and other relatives. Avoid any conflicts by holding family meetings or calling on an elder care mediator. Focus your energy and efforts into what you have done and can do, not on what you cannot.