If you are caring for a parent over 65, you already know how rewarding it can be. And you also know it’s hard work. Like other deeply rewarding, difficult things, it can be stressful. This stress puts caregivers at risk for depression and anxiety.
How caregiving causes stress
Caregivers do physically exhausting things. They do laundry, make beds, lift someone up and help him into the bath, etc. Caregivers are also generous with their intellectual and emotional resources. They listen to complaints about health and loneliness. They provide companionship. They provide sounding boards.
This combination of physical and psychological investment over a long period of time is a recipe for stress-related mental illness, according to the National Institutes of Health. Caregiver stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and complicated grief.
Many caregivers also sleep too few hours a night and have weaker immune systems than other people their age. This means that caregivers are at risk for more illnesses. And recovering from an illness will take longer.
Many caregivers are caring for seniors with declining health. Dementia is a progressive illness, as are heart disease, kidney failure, and other diseases. As the patient gets worse, the caregiver’s stress can increase also.
Self-care is important
There are several steps that all caregivers can take to protect their physical and mental health, including:
- Line up a support group. Your beloved mother or father needs support from more than one person, and so do you. Make a list of the people you can truly count on to listen and lend a hand when needed. Churches often provide good support for caregivers, and some healthcare plans have resources you can draw on.
- Take time off. You should be deliberately scheduling days to look after yourself and do fun things. But also be sure to schedule short breaks within your care schedule. Just a thirty-minute walk by yourself can give you time to recharge, according to the experts at Harvard Health.
- See your doctor. Caregivers are in danger of skipping their own check-ups. It is important not to do so. You should tell your doctor how many hours a week you work as a caregiver. He should also know if you are experiencing signs of stress or burnout. These signs might include constant fatigue, apathy, and a sense of hopelessness. A good doctor will ask questions to determine if you need counseling or psychiatric help.
- Hire home care. Home care can provide the respite you need to take care of yourself. Home care aides come to the home of your loved one for as many or as few hours as you need them. When you hire a home care agency to help you, you know that your mother or father is receiving the same quality of care that you would be giving.
In conclusion, caregiving is meaningful work. But it can also be physically and psychologically stressful and exhausting. Stay in touch with your feelings, and don’t ignore negative thoughts or emotions that persist.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Home Care in Marysville, CA, talk to the caring staff at Partners in Care today. Serving El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Placer, Butte, Glenn, Yolo, & Colusa Counties! Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! (530) 268-7423
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