The responsibilities of providing care to an elderly, disabled or ill loved one can be difficult to manage. There are numerous duties that must be managed in order to ensure your loved one is getting the care they need. Being a caregiver is a wonderful way to show your loved ones that you care and concerned about their well-being. However, the responsibilities of being a caregiver, especially without help from an in-home care provider, can also be overwhelming and stressful.
In fact, there is a term for the stress associated with caregivers - caregiver burnout, which is often defined as a time when all the emotional, mental and physical stresses that come with being a caregiver brew to the point that you can’t effectively care for your loved one. It is common for caregivers to feel burned out as a result of the overwhelming demands that you are routinely managing. Reaching this degree of stress can have a significant effect on both the caregiver and their loved one, so it critical that you learn to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and do what is necessary to effectively care for yourself first and foremost. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the risk of caregiver stress and find a balance between caregiver and a healthier you.
Caring for Your Body
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress is to take care of yourself. It is important that you eat nutritious means, get some sleep (even if it involves taking a short nap during the day) and get regular physical checkups. It may be difficult to get away for an hour to get in some much-needed exercise, but it is important that you do some form of exercise daily, whether it is a brief walk around the neighborhood or walking in place. If it is impossible for you to find a way outside for exercise, consider hiring an in-home health care agency to help you for a few hours each week.
Find Time to Relax
Whether it’s listening to music, reading a book or doing breathing exercises, it is essential for your health that you find the time to relax. Neglecting your own emotional health will eventually catch up to you, resulting in your stress levels being almost unmanageable. Keep in mind that if you make yourself sick because of putting all of your focus on your loved one; it’s not going to be beneficial for you or your loved one if you are too ill to care for them. Do a quick online search for quick meditation or relaxing techniques that you can do a few minutes each day.
Ask for Help
If it’s possible for friends and family to help out-let them, even if they aren’t in the general area as you, there may be times when they can come to help. Make a list of things you would like to have help with, such as picking up prescriptions, driving your loved one to medical appointments or even fixing dinner once a month. Email your list to friends and family and ask if they could help with one of the tasks. Contact an in-home care agency to discuss your needs, even if you only allot for outside help one day a week, it will allow you to get out, relax and do something for yourself.
Caregiver stress is a serious problem and the symptoms can worsen. The symptoms are related to the symptoms of stress and depression, which may include feeling hopeless, change in appetite, insomnia, withdrawal, exhaustion and irritability. If you are experiencing any symptoms of caregiver burnout, it is important that you talk with your doctor or other medical professional as soon as possible. It is extremely important to understand that when you ask for outside help to care for your loved one, it does not mean you are neglecting their care, it simply means that you are doing what you must do for your emotional and physical health that will allow you to continue caring for them.