5 Signs of Caregiver Stress and How to Find Support
With the rise in chronic conditions and aging population globally, many young people have become caregivers..
A caregiver is an individual who takes care of and helps a person in need; it could be a sick relative, aging parent or disabled child, or adult. Due to the nature of the role, caregivers can encounter high levels of stress due to the job's demand. While caregiving is certainly rewarding, it's an emotional roller-coaster. As a long-term caring partner, you are at a risk of experiencing frustration, anger, anxiety, loneliness, and mental exhaustion, which eventually leads to burnout.
Once a caregiver reaches the burnout stage, this can significantly affect their ability to provide quality care, and also puts their health at risk. If you or your friend, partner, or family member is a caregiver, here are some of the signs to look out for regarding caregiver stress.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
1. Poor Sleeping Patterns
For our bodies' well-being, human beings should get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. A lack of sleep or oversleeping could be a clear indicator of stress. When caring for a patient, especially close family, it's normal to have ongoing concerns over their health- especially if there's no signs of improvement. It may be hard to get any quality sleep, leading to exhaustion and negatively affecting your health.
2. Anger and Irritability
Frustrations are widespread if you are caring for an ailing patient. When dealing with most of these conditions, you require a lot of patience. However, if a caregiver is stressed, they will be impatient and become irritable with the person they are taking care of. The job's emotional and physical requirements can take an extreme toll on a caregiver, leading to angry outbursts.
3. Anxiety and Depression
Feeling worried about someone can cause severe cases of anxiety. If a caregiver agonizes a lot about the future and whether the ailing patient might deteriorate, they tend to become stressed out. This situation can escalate quickly to depression. Due to stress, caregivers may have little or no enthusiasm for other things in life. They can also lose their levels of attention- which poses risks for the person receiving the care.
4. Social Withdrawal
The overwhelming responsibilities of a caregiver can lead to self isolation. If a caregiver is typically a social and friendly person, they might now withdraw from the community to deal with their stress alone. They may also lose interest in the things that they previously enjoyed and begin neglecting their responsibilities. If you notice the caregiver has cut back on their everyday activities, it could be a sign of stress.
5. Increased Alcohol or Food Consumption
If your caregiver is suddenly indulging in too much alcohol or drugs, chances are they are using this as a distraction. The same applies to excess food consumption. Drugs and alcohol could easily contribute to erratic behaviors, which affect the delivery of proper care. It's best to note such changes early enough for the physical wellness of the caregiver.
How to Find Support?
In most cases, caregiving will never be stress-free, but there are several ways to find a balance. You can get support from friends, your partner, family member, or professionals. Here are a few pointers to minimize stress levels:
1. Accept Assistance
It's evident that taking care of someone round the clock can be exhausting. Therefore, as a caregiver, you must delegate some duties. You can have a friend help with some light duties in the house or run personal errands to reduce your workload. Getting this kind of support will make you a better caregiver. If it's a family member, you can agree on the delegation of tasks. One person can handle hospital visits, the other one financial support while one does the errands. Sharing out responsibility reduces the burden on one individual.
2. Join a Community Support Group
Everyone needs a listening ear from time to time. Engaging and talking to people who are in a similar situation could help a great deal. Individuals in these support groups fully understand the role's challenges, and it is a great place to make new friends. For Millenials taking care of their ailing or aging parents, there is a considerable burden on their shoulders.
Joining a community such as I-Ally, provides support and the necessary resources and information you require as a caregiver. If you can't leave the house, this is the perfect platform for you; you can download the app and access all the help you need, virtually.
3. Practice Stress Management Techniques
Whether it's meditation, exercise, stretching, or journaling, find something that makes you feel relaxed. You can set aside 30 minutes to an hour a day for a walk or a gym session to decompress your mind. Furthermore, you can make sure you eat healthy foods to keep your physical health in check. You can utilize online caregiving platforms that offer discounts on grocery shopping for healthier meals.
4. See a Health Expert
If your mental health or physical health is in jeopardy, it’s best to consult a doctor as soon as possible. A constant lack of sleep or increased anxiety could lead to deeper health issues that could require medication. If you join a caregiver community, you access mental health experts and caregiving coaches who guide you in this journey.
5. Set Personal Goals
To avoid burnout, create smart goals that you can achieve each day. Establish daily routines with priorities on what needs to be done first. By making a checklist, you will take better care of your physical and mental health and lead a less stressful life. Also, make sure not to let caregiving take over your life completely. Plan and invest in spare time to be spent with friends or family members. As you make a schedule, have moments for activities that you enjoy. By doing this, your stress levels will reduce significantly.
Caregiving can be an incredibly isolating role. The only way to provide premium care to a patient is if the caregiver is also in an excellent physical and mental space. If you enjoyed this Mod, you might like to read more about these 5 Tips to Prevent WFH Burnout! Please consider sharing this Mod using the social links below.