According to research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP in 2015, over 34.2 million American provide unpaid care to those over the age of 50. Nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spends 41 hours a week or more providing care and the average duration for caregiving is 4 years [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015)]. It is no wonder that caregivers face a lot of stress as they balance family, caregiving and work.
Symptoms of caregiver stress include:
- Turning to unhealthy behaviors like overeating and smoking
- Making mistakes giving medicine
- Increasing frustration and anger levels
- Feeling overwhelmed, depressed or tired
- Gaining or losing weight
- Withdrawing from friends and social activities
Here are 7 tips on alleviating caregiving stress:
- Ask and accept help. Caregiving is constant and everyone deserves a break. Consider:
- Having friends or professionals come help a few times a month
- Adult day care options
- Short-term respite care
- Local Communities for Personal Care, Assisted Living and Long-Term Nursing Care.
- Join a support group for caregivers either online or in person. You are not alone. A support group allows you to share stories, get caregiving tips, and just have encouragement from others who face similar challenges.
- Find time for yourself. Remember those activities that you enjoyed, it is time to start doing them again whether it is craft project or reconnecting with friends.
- Take care of your health. If your health starts to falter, you won’t be able to care for someone else. So make sure you are eating right, getting to the doctor, taking your medication and exercising. Set goals to help make sure that you are meeting your own health needs.
- Get organized. Make sure you have systems for keeping tracking of appointments, a daily routine and reducing clutter. By being proactive about your situation and looking for ways to improve it, you will feel more in control, which will reduce the stress you feel.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Hosting a family meal or taking on a big volunteer project might just be too much right now. Also, focus on what you provide best and look to get outside assistance for the other areas.
- Find helpful resources.
Need some quick stress relievers? Read these 7 tips.