Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Individuals who experience the most caregiver stress are the most vulnerable to a decline in their own health. As a caregiver, you are susceptible to depression and anxiety. These tips have helped other caregivers deal with stress:
- Ask and accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways others can help you. Talk to friends, family and neighbors about how you are overwhelmed and ask if they can help. Let them pick from your list which activities they would prefer.
- Don’t give in to guilt. Just as there is no such thing as “perfect parent” there is no such thing as “perfect family caregiver”. Do the best you can in every situation and allow yourself room for doing things for yourself and having your own time Focus on what you are able to provide. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Allow yourself to say no to requests that are draining and make you go out of your way.
- Try to learn more. Try to search for information about the disease of your loved one. Talk to his/her doctor about it. The more you know, the easier it will be. You will also be more confident. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many cities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. You might also find resourceful information and support in online forums.
- Join a support group. There is nothing like sharing your experiences and frustrations with others. This experience can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. You will find out that you are not alone and there are others going through exactly the same situations you are. Group members can provide one another with emotional support as well as practical advice.
- Get help from your community. Services such as transportation to the senior center or adult daycare and meal delivery like Meals on Wheels may be available.
- Have a social life. Try to keep in touch with family and friends as much as possible. Set aside time to socialize each week. Find someone to cover for you in these times. Paid help is a good alternative.
- Commit to staying healthy. Try to stay physically active and engaged on most days. Some activity for at least a few minutes a day is a good start. Exercise is a great tool to fight depression and become motivated. Set personal goals to improve your health and your diet.
- See your doctor. He or she can help you to cope with your caregiving stress. Explain your caregiving situation and how it is taking a toll on you. Describe any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be feeling. Follow his or her instructions and don’t avoid therapy, if it is recommended.
- Keep your sense of humor. A good laugh can help lighten the load. Watch or re-watch comedy movies and shows you and your loved one like.
- Take a break. Taking time for yourself is critical and will bring benefit for both, yourself and your loved one. Remember, you can’t give quality care to someone if you are not OK yourself.
At some point you may need help. Home Helpers is here to help. We can help you with tips on how to talk to your loved one about bringing in external help, so you can have some time for yourself. We’re here to share the burden of caregiving with you, even if for just a few hours a week.
Click here to learn more about Home Helpers Care Services or call:
(860) 698-2244 (CT)
(413) 224-1045 (MA)