A Caregiver’s Burden
Caring for someone 24/7 on top of other family responsibilities and stresses can take an enormous toll on a caregiver.
About 20 percent of caregivers experience caregiver depression, which can last even several years after a loved one has passed away.
Caregiver stress can happen because of lack of support from other family members, because of emotional abuse from belligerent and demanding attitudes of the person they’re caring for. It can occur because of resentment and frustration over so much of their time being taken from looking after someone else, and grief over the loss of vitality and life in their loved one. Obviously, these aren’t the only stressors in a caregiver’s life.
Tips to Manage Caregiver Stress
Step One: The first step in alleviating caregiver stress is acknowledging that you need help. It is surprising how many family caregivers are afraid to ask for help and assume that they should just automatically know how to care for an elderly loved one.
Step Two: Acknowledge that it’s okay to be scared, angry, lost, sad, depressed and to lose your patience. That it's normal to not want to sacrifice your whole life to someone else, to not know how to do everything or have all the answers.
It's understandable if you feel that you are trapped, as well as all the other feelings that go along with caring for someone else. Acknowledge that these feelings are absolutely okay to feel, and that you need to learn how to manage them.
Step Three: Decide that you are going to start doing things differently. For starters, get help. Call an agency, call another family member, call your local church and get someone who can stay with your loved one while you take care of yourself.
Be specific in your requests (eg: “I just need an hour on Wednesday”). Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to tap into those resources that can help you cope with taking care of yourself so you can take care of your loved one.
Step Four: Don’t expect that you will do everything perfectly. Prioritize what needs to be done and organize things in manageable pieces so you’re not overwhelmed.