Caregiving for a Spouse Increases Risk of Stress and Stroke

By April 14, 2016Aging in Place

If a spouse is sick, chances are their caregiving partner is not going to take a lot of time to think about themselves. Why would they? They are not sick, their spouse is. Some may think it is selfish to think about their own health or their own needs when their ailing spouse needs so much care.

However, it is essential that caregiving spouses ensure that their health remains strong. The stress of caregiving creates illness, and sometimes even contributes to stroke.

Strokes happen quickly; one day a person is going through their normal routine and the next day they have lost the ability to walk and/or talk. Stroke is a silent killer and strikes without warning. Stress is a major contributor to stroke. There are many positive benefits to bringing on an at-home caregiver if the need arises, and reducing the risk of stress and stroke is just one of them.

High stress leads to increased levels of the hormone cortisol, and that heightens inflammation in the body. As a result, arteries, can harden, narrow, and restrict blood flow to the brain, which can cause a stroke.

The “sandwich generation” is at especially high risk for caregiver stress; those who simultaneously care for children and elderly parents. That’s because it’s not just caring for someone that creates stress, it’s the loss of a multitude of “little things.” The inability to have coffee with friends, or get ready for the day without interruption. It’s the depression, isolation, and also the perceived level of stress that does the damage. “Why can’t I just have a moment to myself,” and “Why can’t I get any help?” It’s common for caregivers to be providing all the support by themselves.

For caregivers and family members alike, it is a great idea, and a great stress reducer, to dedicate one tiny part of the day to themselves for relaxation. It can be as simple as taking a moment to step outside to take a brief walk. Perhaps it is getting together with one’s spouse or a friend to have dinner and some pleasant conversation.

Caregiving is a rewarding job, but also a demanding one. If your loved one is suffering from ailments related to old age, consider adding some professional help to your routine. The health benefits will be worth it.

LivHOME professionals can provide wonderful custom care for seniors. From meal preparation and light housekeeping to errands and transportation, LivHOME can step in and help when loved ones need a much needed break from caregiving responsibilities.

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