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Caregiver Stress

By Kathy Bosworth

(Page 2 of 3)

If you are a caregiver, Iím sure you find yourself nodding your head at more than a few of these stress indicators. I often say that caregiving is not something that people plan on or sign up for. It is a situation that sort of plops itself in your lap, totally unexpected. Caregivers are usually overwhelmed, untrained, and uneducated in the beginning. With time comes a sense of control that can help you through. Being out of control in any situation can knock a person off balance. Donít be too hard on yourself as you muddle through this. You are a rookie now, but you are getting some heavy on-the-job training.

Here are some tips that I have found to be helpful in getting your life in balance again.

  • When well-meaning people offer to help, accept their help. Be specific in things you could use help with. Now is not the time to show the world how strong you are. You will only burn out quicker without help.

  • Watch out for signs of depression. Get professional help if you need to.

  • Educate yourself about your loved oneís condition. Information is empowering!

  • Trust your gut feelings. Iím a firm believer in our innate instincts. If something sounds out of whack to you, keep asking questions until you are satisfied that the best care is being administered.

  • Find other caregivers to connect with. There are many caregiver websites and support groups that can be found. If there are none in your area, start your own. Believe me, you need somebody to talk to that understands what you are going through.

  • Be kind to yourself. Even if you only take a ten-minute walk around the block to alleviate some stress, DO IT. A caregiver with a lower stress level makes a much better caregiver. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating balanced meals reduces stress.

  • If you are caring for a parent and have siblings, be vocal about what they can do to help. Some people are not comfortable with the day-to-day care but they might be willing to grocery shop for you, pick up meds, or do a doctorís run or two. Donít be a martyr. Your emotional health cannot take it. Face it and get on with it.

  • Take charge of your life and continue to do things that you find relaxing or pleasurable. If a loved oneís disability always takes center stage instead of your needs, you will become a resentful caregiver. Not good for anyone.

  • Write down things to keep your head uncluttered. Having ongoing lists of medications your loved one is taking will not only alleviate the stress of trying to remember what and when, but it is also a valuable tool when visiting the doctor. Itís all written out and accessible. Doctors are often rushed and cannot wait around while you try to remember which meds are causing what side effects, etc. Keep it simple and easy on yourself in ways that you can.

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