ARTICLES / Caregiver /
Caregiver Stress /
By Kathy Bosworth
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
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
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.