Are you caring for a loved one?
Providing care for a family member in need is an age-old act of love and loyalty. As life expectancies increase, more of us will participate in the caregiving process, either as the caregiver or the recipient of care.
Unfortunately, caregiving can take a heavy toll if you don't get adequate support. Changes in the family dynamic, financial pressure and the sheer amount of work are just a few of the stressors involved in family caregiving. As the stress increases, frustration and despair take hold and burnout becomes a very real danger.
Some common signs of caregiver stress include:
Anxiety: You may feel anxious to get things done or you may feel that you don't have enough time. Anxiety may surround what the future holds.
Sleeplessness: You may stay awake thinking about your long list of concerns or things to do. You may even feel tired but be unable to sleep.
Health Problems: Caregiving begins to take a toll mentally and physically. You begin to get sick more than typical.
Denial: Denial about the disease, the person it affects or that the situation will get better or be "fixed".
Depression: Overwhelming feelings of sadness or despair.
Withdrawal: You no longer have the desire to see friends or family. You avoid people or activities that you once enjoyed.
Exhaustion: Feeling run-down. This kind of fatigue makes it challenging to complete daily tasks. Exhaustion is very typical with caregivers who receive little or no outside support.
Loss of concentration: You may find it difficult to focus on tasks at work or at home if your thoughts are consumed by your loved one and your caregiving duties.
Anger: You may feel resentful of your loved one for needing care or angry at other family members for not helping you.
When you begin to experience the symptoms above or when caregiving seems overwhelming, it is time to get help. Talk to you doctor about your emotional and physical symptoms.