Are you sometimes feeling overwhelmed and weary with all the care needs of your loved one or friend?
Have you lost the ability to maintain your usual social life or routine?
Do you find yourself becoming irritable more easily?
Have you been struggling to find the time to address some of your own “to-do’s”?
If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, stop what you are doing and continue to read this blog post. In this post, strategies will be discussed on how to address these challenges to alleviate some of the stress and burnout that comes along with caregiving.
About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. provide care to other adults as informal caregivers. However, many individuals do not self identify as a caregiver. A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse, partner or older relative. Recognizing this role can help caregivers receive the resources and support needed.
7 ways to reduce caregiver stress:
1.) Try accepting the current situation, while remaining hopeful.
It can be disheartening when your loved one or friend’s illness does not resolve or it progresses. It’s important to not dwell on the things you cannot change, and to have a level of acceptance over the situation. However, that does not mean you lose hope that there can be even small victories. As difficult as it may be, focus on the positives and remind yourself why you have made the choice to be the caregiver.
2.) Make a list of ways others can help you.
People in your life want to help, but they don’t necessarily know what you need. Therefore, it’s a good idea to come up with specific ways on how someone could help out. For example, someone can come and visit with your loved one or friend, while you run out to do errands.
3.) Bring in respite care if you don’t have others who are available when needed.
Respite care is substitute caregiving. They can come to your home or you can take your loved one or friend to an adult day center.
4.) Join a caregiver support group.
For instance, the Family Caregiver Alliance has in-person, as well as online support groups. This is an opportunity to talk with others who understand what you may be going through and to share with one another resources or ideas.
5.) Set a daily routine that carves out a little time for yourself.
It could simply be sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading a few pages in a book or watching TV.
6.) Stay in touch with family/friends and do something that you enjoy with them.
It can be incredibly isolating as a caregiver, and it can be easy to lose yourself, when in the throes of caregiving. Do something that gives you meaning or purpose outside of your caregiving.
7.) Stay active.
Find ways of remaining physically active, even if it’s 15 minutes of walking a day or a few times a week.
If the stresses of caregiving do not get addressed, it can take a toll on your health. According to an Assessment of Family Caregivers, 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to 3 years. Remember if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to continue to care for your loved one.
I am sure a lot of these tips and strategies have been suggested to you throughout this time. Perhaps when thinking of them, it just overwhelms you. You don’t know how you can squeeze any of these into your already jam-packed days. Start small. Take one thing off this list and try it for a few days or a week. Then re-evaluate and possibly add or take something away. Pick what resonates with you. You are doing such tremendous invaluable care. Don’t lose heart, you are stronger than you know.