As a caregiver for a loved one, you know that taking care of someone who needs your help can be very rewarding. Providing love and care for a family member in need is an act of kindness and loyalty.
But, let’s face it, being a caregiver is tough! You’re faced with new responsibilities, many of which you are not trained to face. You might start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is common. Remember, you are not alone.
This section of the website is devoted to you. In it, you will find signs to help you realize that you are starting to have caregiver stress, as well as strategies for dealing with it. Additionally, there are resources to help you find local support. Finally, there will be a forum for you to connect with others who are also caring for loved ones recovering from a dissection.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Realizing that you are starting to get caregiver stress is the first step in dealing with the problem. Here are a few signs and symptoms of caregiver stress:
- Feeling tired and rundown
- Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
- Trouble concentrating
- Anxious and depressed
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Health problems that are beginning to take their toll
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
Strategies for Dealing with Caregiver Stress
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else. Don’t make the mistake of believing you have to do everything yourself. With this in mind, here are a few caregiving techniques that have proven to work.
- Get organized. Prioritize your responsibilities and focus on your most important tasks first. Do not worry if you cannot manage everything by yourself.
- Ask for, and accept, help. Make a list of ways that people can help you, and let them choose what they would like to do, even if it is as seemingly simple as picking up groceries or making a meal.
- Use community resources.
- Accept that you cannot possibly do everything. Resist the urge to take on extra responsibilities you cannot handle at the moment. If someone asks you to do something you feel uncomfortable or unprepared doing, just explain honestly why you cannot. And don’t feel guilty.
- Find time to relax. Set aside some personal time, even if it is just a few minutes. This is your time, when nothing can distract you. Healthy ways to deal with your own stress include performing gentle exercises, such as walking, talking with a friend or loved one, and dedicating time to relaxation. Frankly, it does not matter the activity, as long as it helps you recharge.
- Set personal health goals. Eat nutritious food, even if it is a healthy snack like fruit on the go. Try to find time to exercise and do not ignore your own medical needs.
- Stay positive!
Be realistic about how much of yourself you can give. Know your limits and pay attention to when you know you are feeling overwhelmed. Continue communicating with doctors, family members, and other people involved.
At the same time, you know your loved ones best, so trust your instincts. At no point should you ignore what the doctors are telling you, but communicate with them your thoughts and fears. You are spending the most time with the patient, so listen to your gut.
Local Support – You Aren’t Alone
It is important to remember that you are not alone in caring for your loved one; there are people and organizations out there that are willing to help. Places you can turn for caregiver support include family members or friends or religious organizations, such as your church or temple. There are caregiver support groups online or organized through your local hospital. A therapist, social worker, or counselor may also be able to help. Finally, there are national caregiver organizations who may help.