“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” ― Rosalyn Carter
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute, an estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months. Of those numbers, 85 percent are taking care of a relative, while 15 percent care for a friend, neighbor, or other unrelated individual. About 49% care for a parent or parent-in-law, and most report that they spend at least $5,000 in non-reimbursed expenses.
Caring for a loved one that requires assistance is an act of love, but it can also be very mentally, physically, and financially stressful. If caregivers don’t make a concerted effort to manage and cope with that stress, this act of love can quickly turn into caregiver burnout.
Not only does caregiver stress and burnout hurt you and put your health at risk, but it also puts your loved one and their health at risk, as it affects your ability to provide proper care. Learning to spot the signs of caregiver stress allows you to step back, recharge, and get back on the right track before it turns into a more serious problem.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
- Health problems that are new or begin to get worse
- Difficulty focusing
- Excessive feelings of fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Increasing feelings of resentment
- Drinking, smoking, or emotional eating
Finding healthy ways to manage stress before it turns into burnout is important. Some effective techniques for stress management include:
- allowing others to help with caregiver duties;
- getting regular exercise;
- meditating or doing relaxing breathwork;
- eating consistent, healthy meals;
- taking time for yourself;
- and finding support groups.
Failing to deal with caregiver stress can and will eventually lead to burnout. Once you reach this stage, taking care of your loved one is no longer healthy for you or them.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Unable to relax when given the opportunity
- Neglecting your own needs due to being too busy or just not caring
- Becoming more irritated by or impatient with the loved one you are caring for
- Getting sick with colds or other illnesses very easily
If you feel you may be experiencing caregiver burnout, the first and most important thing to do is to speak up. Tell your family and friends how you’re feeling and come to terms with the fact that you need help. See if another family member can assist you with caregiving responsibilities or consider enlisting professional help a few days a week so you can have more time to yourself.
The most important thing to remember is that, in order to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life, your life cannot revolve around caregiving alone. Hobbies, physical activity, social outings, and free time for relaxation are all important parts of a balanced life. Pay careful attention to your needs, check-in with your mental and physical wellness, and take the time to show yourself appreciation and love.
If you’re having trouble finding the time you need to properly manage caregiver stress, David York Agency is here to help. We provide families with the additional support they need to care for both their loved ones and themselves.
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.
If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.