June 10, 2019
Managing caregiver stress is vital to staying healthy and avoiding a crisis of your own. These tips will help you do just that.
As our population continues to gray, more spouses and adult children find themselves stepping into the role of caregiver. Sometimes it is short term while the senior recovers from a hospital stay. Many times, however, it is because the older adult has a medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Juggling caregiver responsibilities with career and family can be difficult. It is important that caregivers learn to recognize the early signs of caregiver overload and know what to do about it. Unfortunately, busy caregivers who fail to do so may end up experiencing a health crisis of their own.
8 Common Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress
Here are some of the most common signs that a caregiver is under too much stress:
- Cries or becomes tearful easily
- Frequently gets angry or overreacts
- Unintended weight gain or weight loss
- Develops unhealthy coping behaviors (smoking, drinking)
- Sleeps too much or too little
- Withdraws from friends and family
- Loses interest in favorite hobbies and pastimes
- Suffers from headaches, stomach problems, or frequent colds
Taking steps to manage stress before it causes a serious health crisis is important. Here are a few tips for doing just that.
Healthy Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress
When it feels like caregiver stress is beginning to take over your life, a few of these tips may help you get back on track:
- Respite care: Explore respite care options in your local community. Home care agencies and assisted living communities typically offer short-term support when a caregiver needs a break. An adult day program may also help.
- Friendly visitors: Some nonprofit organizations, churches, and synagogues have friendly visitor programs that can be lifesaving for caregivers. Volunteers pay visits to homebound seniors to spend time with them. They may just talk and share or they come to read or do crafts. Your local agency on aging can help you locate a friendly visitor program near you.
- Eat well: When you are pressed for time, it’s easier to grab fast food or rely on convenience foods. Most aren’t very healthy. When your diet is poor, your immune system can become compromised. For a caregiver, a cold or bout with the flu can be especially problematic. If you can’t find time to cook and freeze meals once a week, consider meal delivery services. Silver Cuisine and Sun Basket deliver healthy, pre-cooked meals directly to your door.
- Exercise: Daily physical activity does more than keep you fit. It also helps manage stress. If your schedule won’t allow for 30 minutes of exercise, you can break these minutes down and still get the same benefit. For example, a 15-minute walk in the morning and a 15-minute bike ride in the afternoon will net the same rewards as 30 continuous minutes of either activity.
- Journaling: Getting your feelings down on paper frees your mind from carrying a difficult emotional load. It often helps you find solutions to caregiving issues. Journaling to Help Manage Caregiver Stress can give you some ideas for how to get started.
Our final tip is to try to accept that, despite your best efforts, there are times when a senior loved one is better off living in an assisted living community. From a thoughtfully designed environment to a wide variety of life enrichment programs, assisted living helps seniors live their best quality of life.
Call Legacy Senior Living at (423) 478-8071 to learn more!