One of the biggest issues for any caregiver is stress. This stress is more than caregiver “burden,” it is pressure left unchecked that leads to burnout. Most caregivers do not recognize the daily things that area leading to their stress and often wait too long to ask for help. Once they burn out, they too become ill and cannot care for their loved one effectively, thus increasing their stress and worsening their own health.
Being a caregiver is both an honor and tremendous responsibility. It is a responsibility accepted without question, however, what most fail to realize is the onerous task they are undertaking. Caregiving is a long-term challenge. It is the nature of this challenge that leads to the stressors most caregivers experience. Learning to manage these stressors means that the caregiver can enjoy better emotional, mental, and physical health and is ready for whatever challenge may arise while caring for their loved one. The first step in managing stress is learning to recognize the signs and symptoms.[i] If you are:
- Anxious, depressed, or irritable (snappish, easy to rile)
- Have difficulty sleeping
- Constantly sick with colds, flus, or other ailments
- Feeling worn out, run down, extremely fatigued
- Cutting back on your leisure time/activities
- Drinking/smoking/eating more
- Having trouble concentrating
- Overreacting to minor problems/issues
- Starting to feel resentment about your situation
- Neglecting your responsibilities
If you are feeling this, you may already be on the road to caregiver burnout. To halt burnout in its tracks, the first thing to do is ask for help. Whether this is in the form of family, friends, or a hospice/palliative care group, getting someone in to help you can alleviate a major amount of stress. If you have had others asking to help you out, say “yes” and don’t feel guilty. Giving yourself a break means you are more refreshed and a better caregiver when you are present. If you have a hospice/palliative care company coming in to help you, get out of the house and walk, exercise, run errands. Keep on top of your own doctor visits to make sure little complaints do not turn into big ailments.
Support groups are an excellent resource for any caregiver. Being able to talk to others who are experiencing or have experienced what you are going through is a valuable support system. Support groups can be local or online. Hospice and palliative care companies generally employ counselors and are available when you need them.
No matter if you are receiving outside help or going alone, please take care of yourself, especially during this holiday season. As we have said before, caregivers are the unsung heroes, and often go unappreciated for what you do.
If you need help or want to know more about hospice and palliative care services, please contact us at 1-480-426-0255.