Being a caregiver to an aging loved one can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. But if you are currently taking care of a family member or friend, you know that it can also be very stressful. Too much stress can cause a number of physical, emotional and mental health problems, according to the American Psychological Association. While taking care of an aging loved one, a caregiver cannot afford to ignore their own needs and the following is a list of the ways to detect caregiver stress and to prevent stress from turning into something worse. Here are some tips to help recognize signs of caregiver stress from LivHOME:
How to Recognize the Signs of Caregiver Stress
- Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
You feel like all of this responsibility is too much to handle on a daily basis and you are angry or frustrated that it has fallen to you.
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
Eating poorly or not eating enough can lead to serious health problems.
- Feeling tired most of the time
This can affect your daily activities and your ability to be the best caregiver you can be for your loved one.
- Sleeping too much or not enough
Too much or too little sleep can also affect your health and your ability to care for others.
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
This can cause irritability, frustration, sadness and other negative emotions.
Though these symptoms may not seem serious, if ignored, they can affect your health in very serious ways. To avoid getting to a crisis point in your stress management, try the following strategies to keep yourself calm and healthy:
- Accept help or seek it out when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed.
Many caregivers feel that they have to be superhuman and take on their task alone. This is simply not true! Accept help or ask for it when you need it.
- Seek support socially, such as with friends, family or a support group.
Staying connected to people is one of the most important things a caregiver can do for themselves. It can feel isolating to provide care for a loved one because you must sacrifice certain parts of your life. If you keep yourself connected to others, you can avoid this feeling of isolation.
- Set health goals.
It is vital to stay active and to eat healthy while you are caring for a loved one. There is no need to forget yourself or your own needs during this time, and you will see positive results years down the road.
- See your doctor regularly.
It is known that stress can cause many physical health problems, so it is important to see your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your physical, mental and emotional health so that you can keep yourself in the best shape possible.
Feelings of isolation and frustration are all too common with caregivers of elderly loved ones, so it is important to stay connected to family and friends. Stress can trigger many problems, and if you understand what you can handle, ask for help when you need it, and take care of yourself, you can manage these feelings with much more ease and prevent serious disease.