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Caregiver Stress

By Kathy Bosworth

(Page 1 of 3)

More than one quarter of the adult population (26.6%) has provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during the past year. Based on current data, that translates into more than 50 million people! Sixty-one percent of “intense” caregivers (those providing at least 21 hours of care a week) have suffered from depression. Heavy-duty caregivers, especially spousal caregivers, do not get consistent help from other family members. One study has shown that as many as three fourths of these caregivers are “going it alone.” Is it any surprise that caregiver stress or burnout is becoming a critical issue?

Dealing with stress is not a new concept. None of us have immunity from the challenges of getting through life with the least amount of stress. Some people drink, over eat, smoke, bite their nails, yell at the cat, or retreat inside themselves when the going gets too tough. I’m sure you have your own ways of protecting yourself from the ravages of stress. I have often thought my cat has the right idea when stress enters her life. After one loud meow and an angry swish of her tail, she retreats to another room to take a nice long two-hour snooze. Bamm! The stress is gone. Unfortunately, people do not have the same luxury.

Are you caught in the web of stress while being a caregiver? In the book, “Living with Stroke”, there is an interesting section on stroke stress analysis. People list nine sentences that sum up all the different ways that stress exhibits itself in families of stroke survivors. Do any of these ring a bell with you?


“Ohmigod, I can’t handle this.”


 “What if he needs me in the middle of the night and  I can’t hear him?”

Denial that leads to over-optimism

“Oh, he’ll be fine.  He just needs to come home.”

Irritability and Anger

“It’s all the rehabilitation team’s fault.”


“I can’t stand one more thing going wrong!”


“I’m utterly, completely exhausted from the experience.”

Hopelessness and helplessness

“What’s the use?  Nothing’s going to change.”


 “How can I be so angry at him?  It’s not fair.”


 “I don’t know how I feel anymore.  I can’t make a decision about anything.”


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