Caregiver Stress

Caring for senior citizens or disabled individuals can be difficult and often results in emotional and physical strain known as caregiver stress. This stress can cause one to feel frustrated or angry, guilty, lonely, and exhausted. And, although caregivers are generally in good health, research indicates that caregivers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, have higher levels of stress-induced hormones, and have a higher incidence of obesity. Still, one research study has found a difference in health between caregivers who felt stressed and those who did not. Senior citizens who felt stressed as a result of taking care of a disabled spouse were more likely to die within four years of the study than their counterparts who did not feel stressed. For reasons like this, it is important that caregivers providing elder care or care for a disabled individual understand how to avoid and cope with caregiver stress.

Symptoms

If you are caregiver it is likely that have caregiver stress if you experience the following symptoms: Altered sleeping habits Weight loss or gain Constantly feeling worried, overwhelmed, or sad Being irritable and easily angered Frequent and unexplainable headaches or other bodily pain

If you feel like physically or emotionally harming yourself or the person you are caring for, talk to your doctor immediately. He or she will be able to refer you to a health care specialist that can help.

Preventing and Alleviating Stress

Caregiver stress is associated with many serious health problems and should never be dismissed as “just stress.” Rather it is important that those providing care for senior citizens or disabled individuals take steps to reduce their stress.

If you feel like physically or emotionally harming yourself or the person you are caring for, talk to your doctor immediately. He or she will be able to refer you to a health care specialist that can help.

Preventing and Alleviating Stress

Caregiver stress is associated with many serious health problems and should never be dismissed as “just stress.” Rather it is important that those providing care for senior citizens or disabled individuals take steps to reduce their stress. Taking a problem-solving approach to caring for others helps to decrease stress. For example, if someone with Alzheimer’s continues to ask the same question again and again, answer the question but then redirect him or her. Say something like “Lets get this laundry started,” or include the person in a simple task like folding clothes. If you are caring for someone with a certain disease or disability, be sure you understand their condition. Use your doctor, the library, or the Internet to educate yourself. Also, your hospital or doctor’s office may give classes that teach you how to take care of someone with the condition your loved one has.

Tips for Reducing Stress

Research and use community resources that are available for both the person being cared for and the caregiver. Do not be afraid to ask for and accept help. Often, friends and family members are willing to provide assistance like taking the elderly or disabled person on a walk once a week or picking up groceries for you. Ask family members to contribute to the costs of taking care of the relative who needs help. Say “no” when necessary, it is important not to take on too much responsibility that can lead to additional stress. Identify what you are able to change and what you cannot. You cannot change another’s behavior, but you can change how you respond to it. Do not take on too much at once. Rather, break big tasks up into smaller steps and set realistic goals that you can stick to. If you begin to feel guilty, remind yourself that there is no such thing as a perfect caregiver and you are doing your best. Establish a daily routine and make prioritized “to do” lists. Stay connected with friends and family members, and make time each week to spend time with others in a capacity that is relaxing and enjoyable for you. Join a support group for caregivers; it can help remind you that you are not alone. Also, other caregivers can offer support and advice for how to cope with what you are going through. Finally, take care of yourself. Eat well-balanced meals, maintain a healthy weight, and get enough sleep. Talk with your doctor about any sickness or feelings of depression or anxiety that you may be experiencing.

Taking a Break

Sometimes, it may be necessary to take a break from caregiving to reduce stress. Respite care provides relief services for people who need rest after caring for others. There are various types including:

In-home Respite Care. This type of elder care generally involves in home health care services from companionship to nursing. Adult Day Care. This type of elder care is often held in community centers, and sometimes transportation to and from the center is provided. Short-term Nursing Homes. These types of nursing homes provide care for senior citizens over the short-term and are useful when a caregiver has to go out of town for few weeks.

If you are feeling overwhelmed working and taking care of a relative, it may be helpful to take a break from your work. Ask Human Resources about different options for taking leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows one to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one.

Hiring an in home health aide will also ensure your loved one is cared for, if you cannot always be there or provide the care yourself. Home health aides can provide care for as little as a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. They provide assistance with personal care, like bathing or brushing teeth. They offer housekeeping services, like laundry and light cleaning. They also act as companions providing social interaction. Finally, they assist with administering medications and other treatments. You can hire a home health aide through an in home health care agency or independently, generally independent caregivers are less expensive. TheCaringSpace.com is an online resource that may be helpful, it connects independent caregivers with families in need of their services.

Caregiving Services in your Community

Asking your doctor or case manager about resources in your community is a good place to begin locating additional caregiving services. Some of these services may be free while others require payment. Local churches, synagogues, and community centers may give free services for senior citizens or disabled individuals. The government also provides many benefits at the federal, state, and local levels for senior citizen elder care and care for disabled individuals. To find out more about these, you can contact your local Area Agency on Aging. You can also look into respite care or in home health care services available in your area by checking your phone book or using online resources like TheCaringSpace.com.

Paying for Home Health Care and Other Caregiving Services

Medicare, Medicaid, private “Medigap” policies or health insurance, or long-term care insurance may cover some of costs of in home health care. Other costs will have to be paid for out of pocket.

In home health care costs depend on the services you use. Non-medical workers like companions or housekeepers are much less expensive than medical workers like nurses. Also, the cost of using in home health care agencies vary, but is generally more expensive than using an independent caregiver.

In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government provides the National Family Caregiver Support Program. This program helps states to provide services for caregivers. Every state offers different types of services, many include respite care, support groups, individual counseling, caregiver training, and help accessing additional benefits. To be eligible, a caregiver must: Provide care for a senior citizen at least 60 years of age or older Provide care for or any person with Alzheimer’s disease Be at least 55 years of age and provide the primary care for a child under the age of 18 Be at least 55 years of age and provide the primary care for a disabled adult aged 18 to 59 years old.

About The Author

By: David Crumrine

www.thecaringspace.com – The Caring Space is an easy and affordable option connecting families seeking care for friends/families and caregivers seeking employment.

Article Source:
http://www.articlebiz.com/article/503814-1-caregiver-stress/

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
  • St. Barnabas Senior Services

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