Caregiver stress can affect a caregiver at any of the five stages. Signs of caregiver stress include feeling tired much of the time, sleeping too much or too little, new or worsening health problems, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, and anxiety, depression and irritability.
Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress:
Accept help. Prepare a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what they would like to do. For instance, one person might want to provide a meal, whereas someone else might want to play cards with or read to your loved one.
Focus on what you are able to provide. Don’t give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a perfect caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time.
Get connected. Find out which organizations in your community offer classes on caregiving. Local hospitals and health organizations may also have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.
Join a support group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations.
Seek social support. Make an effort to stay emotionally connected with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house. Set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to find time to be physically active on most days of the week or for getting a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to maintain a healthy diet.
See your doctor. As a caregiver, you may not get enough physical exercise or maintain a balanced diet, which increases your risk of medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Get recommended screenings and immunizations. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver.
Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you may have.