Your Care Team offers tips for combating caregiver stress
Nearly four in 10 American adults identify themselves as a family caregiver. Many care not only for their aging parents but also for young children or a spouse.
Caregiving is an act of love associated with many positives. Most caregivers enjoy the close relationship they share with their loved ones. Plus, those individuals with strong caregiver support are at lower risk for being placed in a nursing home or hospitalized.
Caring for someone with physical or cognitive disabilities can be extremely challenging and downright overwhelming at times. It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated or irritated from time to time, but excessive amounts of stress can have detrimental effects on both the caregiver and their loved ones. Caregivers experiencing burnout may feel detached, hopeless, excessively tired and less interested in activities they once enjoyed. These symptoms can increase their risk of developing depression, anxiety and heart disease.
All caregivers need to recognize the symptoms of stress and burnout and combat them with positive strategies including:
Allow for flexibility in your daily routine with your loved one. For example, if your loved one refused a medication or personal care, step away from the task, center yourself and approach them again in 30-60 minutes.
Accept help - it's okay! Make a list of all of your caregiving responsibilities and determine which ones only you can do and which ones you could entrust to another person. Most communities have excellent resources, such as adult day programming, respite care and home meal delivery that can provide support. Contact your local Agency on Aging, to learn what's available in your area.
Give yourself permission to say "no" to additional tasks or duties that are not consistent with your key priorities. You do not need to feel guilty for declining extra demands.
Connect with others. Getting in touch with a supportive group of other caregivers or a caregiving coach is vitally important. You can find these resources locally or online.
Set aside time just for you. Every day, schedule 30 or more minutes to do something that restores you. This can be anything that brings you peace and joy, such as working in your garden, taking a long walk or writing in your journal.