Reducing caregiver stress

November 12, 2012

Reducing caregiver stress

Whether you are taking care of an elderly parent, sick partner or a disabled child, caregiver stress is a common condition that should be identified and reduced wherever possible.

Signs and Symptoms of caregiver stress

As rewarding as it can sometimes be, caring for someone’s needs can cause a great deal of strain on an individuals life and lead to caregiver stress. This can present itself in both physical and emotional ways and it can make the caregiver more vulnerable and susceptible to other health problems. Many caregivers take on too much and attempt to do everything by themselves. This doesn’t need to be the case and it is important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress so that changes can be made in order to relieve some of the strain. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • A feeling of tiredness most of the time

  • Increased irritability and a feeling of being overwhelmed

  • Sleeping more that normal or sleeping less than normal

  • Otherwise unexplained weight loss or weight gain

  • A lack of interest in activities that you previously found enjoyable

Caregiver stress, like most forms of stress will produce more and more symptoms the longer it lasts and can lead to serious conditions including depression and anxiety. In these situations it is also common for the individual to begin to neglect him or herself, resulting in a lack of physical activity and balanced diet. This can in turn lead to an increased risk of developing medical problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Dealing with caregiver stress

As the strain and stress of caring for someone begins to take it’s toll, it is essential that the signs be recognised and action is taken to avoid further problems. One of the main issues associated with this condition is that the individual often feels the need to take on the entire load by his or herself. Instead advantage should be taken of the available help and support offered by other family members, friends or the community. Some more ways of dealing with caregiver stress include:

  • Accept help. Every little helps so even if it is someone’s offer to pick up the person you care for’s groceries, at least it is one less thing that you have to do. Be prepared to accept help whenever it is available.

  • Don’t feel guilty. It can be easy, especially when caring for a close member of family to begin to feel guilty and as though you are not doing enough. No one is perfect and you certainly shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for help.

  • Be informed. Local organisations or charities may be able to offer help or advise on caring for someone. Being well informed on the disease or condition that the individual is suffering from can also help to prepare for what may happen or extra help that may be needed in the future.

  • Support groups. Joining a support group can integrate you with other caregivers who may be able to offer advice and tips as well as provide emotional support.

  • Stay connected. Don’t let yourself become isolated from friends or family. Even if it is only once a week, have a scheduled time for socialising so that you can talk to different people and get out of the house for a while.

  • Stay healthy. Find time to care for you own health by doing regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet. This will not only keep you healthy but should also aid a better night’s sleep.

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