Currently, there are 46 million adults aged 65 or older in the United States. This number is expected to increase by 18 million from 2020 to 2030. The majority of the population requires caregiver attention. The insufficiency of caregivers is not the only reason why many non-professionals step out to take the role of caregiving, it’s sometimes due to financial struggles and inability to afford in-house care.
With these numbers, it should come as no surprise that many people are struggling on a daily basis with caregiver stress. Even the most resilient, stable, and healthy people can suffer from this. Some people even walk out from such experiences with PTSD and other mental issues that affect their quality of life. If you, or someone you know, is dealing with this type of stress, then you should give these following tips a read to learn how to reduce stress levels and prevent wearing yourself out.
Spot the Signs
Many caregivers start noticing some changes in their mental and physical states without being able to point their fingers at the root of the problem. There are some symptoms and risk factors you need to look out for when you are taking care of seniors to be able to spot the problem early on. Signs include the constant feeling of sadness, inadequacy, and guilt. You might often find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything. Sudden and severe fluctuations in weight should be looked out for as it is a clear sign of depression. In severe cases, symptoms can extend to include physical pains such as headache, abdominal pain, or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome, or other physical problems that are caused by the rise of cortisol due to stress. On the other hand, realizing risk factors can help you prevent the problem from even happening whether by avoiding the risk factor or by leaving this role to a better fit. Here are some risk factors you should avoid when you are taking care of a loved one.
- Living with the person you are taking care of. This deprives you of any chance of building a life outside your role as a caregiver.
- Social isolation and being distanced from other loved ones.
- Having depression or other mental health issues.
- Financial struggles and instability.
- Lack of healthy coping mechanisms.
Make the Right Decision
When a loved one is in need, it’s often hard to refuse to offer help. Many people are faced with this difficult choice when in reality, there is a right answer. While you might be stopped by your sense of guilt, worries, the right solution is to always leave it to the hands of professionals. Experienced caregivers from arcare.com.au recommend weighing the pros and cons of residential care and home care services to be able to make a calculated decision regarding what is best for your loved ones. If you struggle with any of the mentioned risk factors, you are at increased risk of suffering from caregiving stress. This experience might leave you vulnerable to other mental health issues.
Take Care of Yourself
If you are not dealing with any of the risk factors and you want to personally take care of your loved ones, then you need to prioritize taking care of yourself. This is often impossible for many caregivers as they usually don’t find the time nor the energy to pay attention to their mental and physical wellbeing while they are taking care of an elderly person who is close to them. However, even if you can’t find the time nor the energy, make it a habit to stick to the basics such as taking frequent showers, skincare routine, exercising for at least an hour daily, and dedicating some time to your hobbies and interests.
Recognize Your Abilities
It is essential to understand your limits. You have to accept that there is no such thing as a “perfect” caregiver. Even professionals who do this for a living can sometimes feel a sense of guilt and inadequacy when they can’t fulfill all the needs of the person, they are taking care of. Believe in yourself and your abilities that regardless of everything you are worried about. Caregivers need to believe that they are doing their best to stop the vicious cycle of guilt that sometimes stays for years after stopping taking care of loved ones.
There is a constant sense of guilt that hunts those who provide care for their loved ones. The constant worries, the attentive care you have to provide, and the time you are dedicating to caregiving can affect your quality of life. Therefore, it’s essential to remove emotions from the equation when you are deciding on the best care option for your loved ones. If you have to provide care for someone, you need to consider these previously mentioned tips to prevent straining yourself in the process.