While caregiving can be a highly gratifying bonding experience, the added work involved can eventually take a toll on your physical and emotional health. If you’re not careful, caregiver stress can creep up on you when least expected, placing the health and well-being of you and your care recipient at risk. What follows are caregiver stress signs to watch for – along with preventative steps you can take – so you can continue to honor your loved one’s wishes and provide them with the nurturing they deserve.
Physical Signs of Caregiver Stress
Sprains, strains, and neck and back pain are some of the most common injuries for professional caregivers. That said, research would also indicate that a high percentage of informal caregivers experience musculoskeletal discomfort – most notably those who provide long-term home care.
In addition to those injuries, these are some other physical signs of caregiver stress:
- Frequent headaches
- Stomach and digestive issues
- Weight loss or gain
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain
- Unusual perspiration
- Weakened immune system
- Hair loss
Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress
The emotional stress involved when providing care while working and raising a family can exact a heavy toll on even the most capable person.
You might have caregiver stress if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Butterflies in your stomach
- Moodiness or mood swings
- Memory issues or poor concentration
- Irritability, road rage, or easily frustrated.
- Feeling like you’ve “lost control.”
- Substance abuse, including prescription meds.
Self-Care Tips for Tired Caregivers
Admitting you need help as a caregiver doesn’t make you a failure. Here are some proven ways to keep caregiver stress from sidelining you:
Set realistic caregiving goals
Although it’s not easy to accept, no matter how hard you try your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones— like getting Dad to eat everything on his dinner plate. After all, you’re only human, and even Superman has limitations.
Make healthier lifestyle choices
If you’re sick in bed (again) because you’re not taking care of yourself, start making healthier lifestyle changes. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol to excess.
Also, get a complete physical every year, and don’t neglect your other medical appointments. Seek professional counseling if negative feelings like anxiety, depression, or hopelessness persist.
Start a caregiving journal
Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences you are going through — like the fact you were able to get Mom out of the house for some much-needed socialization. When you’re having a bad day, go back and relive the good moments and focus on how your efforts are making a difference.
Take time to pamper yourself
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy every week. Use your scheduled downtime to learn a new hobby, go clothes shopping, or just spend a few hours curled up on the couch binge-watching your favorite TV shows. Whatever you decide to do, don’t feel guilty for taking a break from your caregiving duties.
Take a well-deserved break (respite)
Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure. Stay positive by seeking relief through community volunteers, family members, friends, adult day care, or paratransit service. Another option you have is hiring a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care provider.
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Families in Raleigh
When you need time off from your caregiving duties, contact HomeChoice Home Care in Raleigh, Durham & Cary areas, and we’ll handle the rest. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like respite care, personal care, dementia care, companionship, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit HomeChoice Home Care online now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.