Being a caregiver can be difficult. Although you care deeply for your loved one, the physical and mental challenges of helping someone with all the activities of daily life can become stressful at times.
That’s why it’s so important to keep a clear head and take care of your own mental health. After all, if you’re not feeling your best, you won’t be able to provide the best care. Learn more about mental health, and try the tips below to keep yourself feeling good during this time.
What Causes Stress for Caregivers?
The Mayo Clinic reports that about one in three Americans acts as an informal caregiver for another adult. And if you fall into any of these categories below, you’re at a higher risk for feeling the stress of your responsibilities:
- Being female.
- Having a lack of formal education.
- Living with the person you’re caring for.
- Social isolation.
- Financial difficulties.
- Lack of choice about being a caregiver.
Of course, anyone can feel stressed about caregiving, not just those who fit these descriptions. Even if you have a strong relationship with the person you’re caring for, there may be days when your patience seems to wear thin, the person doesn’t seem grateful, or you have too much on your plate.
If your loved one is a parent, it can also be difficult to suddenly see yourself as the person making the decisions and taking care of the other.
Signs of caregiver stress
Stress can show itself in less-than-obvious ways. Be on the lookout for any of the following signs in yourself:
- Feeling irritable or angry at others.
- Withdrawing from family or activities you usually enjoy.
- Getting sick more frequently.
- Changes in sleeping patterns – sleeping much more or much less.
- Emotional and physical exhaustion.
If you’re exhibiting one or more of these signs, it’s probably time to take a closer look at your mental health and do something to keep yourself well.
Tips to Relieve Caregiving Stress
Some people feel guilty for wanting to take care of themselves while caregiving. However, as a caregiver, you’re now doing double-duty: Caring for both yourself and a loved one. The best thing for both of you is for you to stay healthy.
Try a few of these tips to reduce and relieve your stress as a caregiver:
- Take care of yourself physically. What you eat, how much you exercise, and the quality of sleep you get all have an impact on your mental state.
- Set aside a little time for yourself each day. It’s not selfish; it’s important to give yourself time to relax and regroup.
- Be realistic about your loved one’s condition. If they have a progressive disease like dementia, know that it’s not on you to “cure” them or do the impossible.
- Know your limits and ask for help. If you’ve reached a breaking point, it’s OK to let someone know.
Explore respite care options or discuss the situation with other family members who could relieve you.
- Let go of guilt. If you’re doing the best you can for your loved one, you are doing enough. And accept that feelings like anger or frustration are completely normal in this situation.
- Connect with other caregivers. Especially if you are feeling socially isolated, this is a good way to share your experiences and get support from others.
If the feelings of stress are constant and last for extended periods, find a therapist who can talk through your situation and help you develop coping strategies. And remember, there’s no shame in getting help for your mental health any more than there’s shame in going to a doctor for a broken leg.
Respite Care: When You Need a Break from Caregiving
Even with the best coping strategies, there are times when you just need a break. Respite care is a great option that will ensure your loved one receives the best care possible while you can enjoy time to yourself.
At Residences Senior Living, our team of experts we will take care of your loved one with the same compassion and respect you’d offer them at home. Our respite care guests enjoy the same amenities as our long-term residents, including:
- 24-hour nursing care and emergency response system.
- Certified dementia practitioners on staff.
- Life-enriching programs and activities.
- Delicious, chef-prepared meals and snacks.
- Access to our wellness, fitness and therapy center.
Respite care also offers caregivers several benefits, including renewal and relaxation, social engagement with friends and family, time to reflect and recharge, and more.
For more information about our respite care services, contact us – we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and provide more information.