All Care will be publishing a Caregiver Stress Blog series which will cover the definition of caregiver stress, sign & symptoms, tips to control caregiver stress, as well as explore resources to help manage and avoid caregiver stress.
Part III: How to Avoid Caregiver Stress
Caregiver stress is different for everyone so it stands to reason that tools and strategies to manage and avoid caregiver stress vary from caregiver to caregiver. When a caregiver lacks the support they need, caregiver stress and burnout are sure to overcome. Here are some basic family caregiver statistics to keep in mind:
- 80% of all homecare is provided by family caregivers
- 75% of caregivers report not getting enough help from other family members
- 61% of “intense” family caregivers (caregivers who provide more than 21 hours of care a week) have suffered from depression
- More elderly patients enter skilled nursing facilities due to caregiver burnout than an exacerbation of their own conditionTaking on all of the responsibilities of caregiving without a break or the proper support will lead to caregiver burnout which can dangerously compromise the care you are providing. You may ‘snap’ or overreact to nuisances or you might find it so hard to focus that you begin to mismanage medications. You can’t try to do it all by yourself, you need to ask for and accept help whether it’s from a family member, an online support group, or a homecare agency like All Care.Here are some tips for getting the help you need to manager your caregiver stress and avoid burnout:
- Speak up, no one can or will read your mind so start a dialogue about the challenges you face as a caregiver
- Say yes when someone offers to help
- Spread around the responsibility-try to get as many family members involved as possible, create caregiving tasks and assign them as needed
- Be willing to relinquish some responsibility, people will be happy to help but they will resent you if you micromanage them
Taking time for yourself plays a huge role in avoiding caregiver burnout. While leisure time might seem like a decadence in which you simply cannot indulge, you owe it to yourself as well as the person you are caring for that you make time to rest, relax, and replenish, Try some of these simple ways to assure that you’re getting adequate personal time:
- Set aside 30 minutes a day just for yourself, you could nap, read, get a manicure, or watch puppy videos on YouTube, as long as it’s 30 minutes of uninterrupted You Time
- Get out of the house! Get a friend or family member to stand in for you and your caregiving duties, go for a walk, see a movie, try the new restaurant downtown, it doesn’t matter, you’ll find being out of the house will help to bring your energy levels back up
- Find simple ways to pamper yourself whether it’s enjoying a nice glass of wine, smoking a fine cigar, or having a long soak in the bathtub, treat yourself like you treat the people you love, you deserve it!
- Visit with friends or family, it could be a good way to get out of the house but sharing your experiences as a caregiver and articulating your feelings could be a great catharsis
- Have a laugh! A little laughter goes a long way and there is no better antidote to anxiety and stress than laughter so watch a funny movie, read a good book, reminisce with an old friend, it doesn’t matter as long as you allow yourself a good belly laugh every now and then!
Even with these strategies stress can sometimes seem overwhelming. Try to focus on things that are within your control; while you may not be able to control the situation you are in you can control your reaction to it. Try to find a silver lining in each situation, no matter how dim it may seem, having something positive to focus or reflect on will be helpful. Be sure to monitor your own health, keep up with doctors’ appointments, get enough rest, and try to identify effective relaxation methods that work for you be it mediation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or visualization. Providing care for a loved one is one of the best gifts anyone could ask for, by making self-care a priority, caregivers can manage their stress and avoid caregiver burnout, helping to keep their loved one happy and safe at home for as long as possible.
Be sure to check out next week’s installment of our Caregiver Stress Blog Series which will explore various resources available to manage and prevent Caregiver Stress & Burnout