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Caregiver Stress: How It Affects You and How to Manage It

As the world’s society grows older, several families take it upon themselves to care for their aging relatives. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country has 40.4 million voluntary caregivers of adults over 65 years old. Nine out of ten are caring for an older relative, with the majority taking care of a parent.

Caring for an aging adult involves assisting with housework, being the adult’s companion, and providing medical and various forms of physical care. For many, caregiving has different rewards. It can be fulfilling to be there and provide for your aging loved one when they need it the most.

However, your focus on taking care of your loved one may cause you to ignore your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. There may be times when you feel angry, alone, or exhausted. That is a typical experience of caregiver stress.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiver stress occurs when you focus too much on caring for your aging relative that it negatively impacts your health. Signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Constant anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Irritation
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Sadness or depression
  • Bodily pain, frequent headaches, and other physical problems
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Managing Caregiver Stress

Even if you’re a resilient person, you can buckle under the emotional and physical demands of being a caregiver. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your aging relative or anyone else.

Here are pointers to help you manage caregiver stress:

Ask for Help

Ask for and accept help from anyone willing to share the burden of caring for your aging loved one. It can be from a parent, siblings, friend, or neighbor.

It might also be best to have someone else care for your aging relative. Consider using elder live-in care services, adult care centers, and nursing homes. These services have people who have the knowledge and training to handle the challenges of caring for older adults under any condition.

Get Connected

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Search for community resources that can ease the stress of caregiving. Enroll in classes that teach you more about your loved one’s condition. Look for outsourcing caregiving resources, like housekeeping, meal delivery, and transportation.

Seek Support

Join support groups for family members caring for loved ones. People in these groups understand what you’re going through. You can share best practices and create meaningful friendships.

Stay connected with family and friends. Set aside a time each week to meet with them, even if it’s a quick lunch outside or a day trip.

Set Personal Health Goals

Make it a point to get the required hours of sleep, stay physically active, and eat a healthy diet. If you’re experiencing health concerns or symptoms, see a doctor right away. Take care of yourself, or else you might pass any illness to your aging loved one.

Taking care of an aging loved one may feel rewarding, but they can also lead to periods of stress and isolation. Don’t struggle on your own and ask for help from your relatives, friends, and the community.

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