Caregiver Stress: Signs, Symptoms & How to Alleviate It
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Many families make the decision to care for their elderly loved ones on their own, which can be rewarding, but it can often times be stressful and overwhelming. Offering daily and timely care to an aging parent over an extended period of time can cause family care givers to experience symptoms of “caregiver burnout” that can lead to their own health conditions from prolonged periods of underlying and unaddressed stress.
As an adult child, when your primary focus is on caring for your aging or ailing parents, these potentially harmful symptoms often go unnoticed. This can eventually take a toll on your relationships, health, mind, and personal goals which leads to “burnout” – a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Symptoms of stress often times show up so quietly that they can go undetected for years and slowly take an effect on one’s health without being noticed.
Research has shown that more than 50% of all family caregivers suffer from depression at some point, while the majority of them experience what’s commonly known as “caregivers’ stress.” The level of stress can be even higher for the “Sandwiched Generation” who often experiences the physical, emotional, and financial strains of caring for their elderly parents and their own children, all at the same time, while managing their regular job and other day-to-day responsibilities. But what we can’t lose sight of is that staying emotionally, mentally and physically fit is imperative for our own health and important. So, we can provide the best possible home care in order to keep our loved ones independent with age-related decline.
Signs of Family Caregiver Stress
When you care for an aging loved one, a shift in roles and responsibilities to meet the specific needs of your elderly family member is unavoidable. This shift in roles, coupled with caregivers’ strains, can predispose you to changes in your own health, causing you to experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Abnormal moodiness, anger or sadness
Withdrawal from social activities and interaction
Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
Changes in eating habits with either weight loss or weight gain
Recurring headaches, stomachaches and frequent cold
Difficulty focusing on your own goals such as retirement or career growth.
Feeling of hopelessness or depression
How to Deal with “Caregivers’ Stress”
The physical, financial, and emotional demands of caring for an aging parent can be stressful even for the most resilient of us. Here are some useful tips to try and mitigate some of the issues we can face:
Know What Exactly You Can Offer: Nobody is perfect in creating the perfect balance between providing care for someone else and still dealing with their own lives. Give yourself a break and feel confident that you are putting in your best efforts.
Set Achievable Goals: Don’t lose site of your own personal goals and make an effort towards achieving them. Write them down and break larger goals into smaller segments so you can have small successes along the way that feel rewarding and boost self-esteem.
Get Social Support: Not only does a support group encourage you, but provides you with many problem-solving strategies that can help you manage your day efficiently while caring for your older parents. Since these groups have members with somewhat similar experiences, they may understand your unique situation and offer you suggestions worth considering.
Consider Professional Support from a Home Health Agency: It may be tough to imagine someone else to take care of your aging loved one, but it is a great option for taking the much-needed break to alleviate the stress and rebalance your workload. While the thought of putting trust into an outsider may initially bring on some stress, hiring a professional care giver from a licensed agency can not only bring relief to you, but can also lift feelings of being burdensome to the family and the associated guilt that can be felt by an aging senior.
Depending on the short or long term care needs, there are many care options that can be provided through the assistance of homemaker companions, home health aides, or registered nurses providing skilled nursing care. Some may be discouraged into looking into this as they may feel only full time care can be provided, which may be outside of their budget. However, most home health agencies offer minimum shifts of 4 hours per day as long as care is for at least 3-4 days per week. Often times, this is all that’s needed to create a better environment for our loved ones, give us the ability to take a deep breath, and start to rebalance our own lives.
Some may consider privately hiring an independent caregiver that may come with its own stressors which is what we’re trying to reduce. The following are the reasons why we recommend hiring through a licensed home health agency:
No hassles of screening, hiring, payroll, background and state regulation compliance verification of the caregiver as all these are handled by the agency
Variety of caregiving services to choose from
Customized Care Plans with registered nurse supervision
Easy replacement and arrangement of a substitute when needed
Can be covered under long-term care insurance , if available
Agencies are licensed, bonded, and insured per state regulation.
An in home assessment and care plan estimate is always FREE at Unified Pledge Home Health. We encourage you to connect with us to see how we can be a great addition to the team throughout your journey of family caregiving! CLICK HERE.