Caregiver Stress Syndrome is a condition in which a caregiver experiences physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Typically, this occurs when a caregiver neglects their own physical and emotional health because they are focused on caring for an ill, injured, disabled, or aging loved one. They also often try to take on more responsibility than they should, and they feel guilty about taking time for themselves.
Signs of caregiver stress syndrome:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired often
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Gaining or losing weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling sad
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
- Misusing alcohol or drugs
Tips to help family caregivers avoid caregiver stress syndrome:
- Accept help by preparing a list of ways that others can help you and let them choose what he or she would like to do. If friends or family members cannot help, hire a local in-home caregiver to support you.
- Break down large tasks into smaller projects that you can do one at a time. Prioritize your day by setting realistic goals.
- Learn to say “no” and avoid taking on too many other responsibilities.
- Search out local and online resources to help you identify and address any changes you are facing due to caregiver stress. Healthcentral is a helpful resource to learn more about causes, symptoms, and treatments related to stress and depression.
- Join a local support group. Finding people who have gone or are going through what you are experiencing can provide validation, encouragement and problem-solving strategies.
- Find time each day to relax, rest, exercise or simply do something you enjoy.
- Take time off from your responsibilities as a primary caregiver so that you can focus on yourself for a while. Respite care services allow you to take a couple of hours, an entire day, overnight, or even longer-term if needed so you can take care of yourself without compromising the quality of care and attention your loved one needs.
As a family caregiver, you must address signs of stress and make your own health a priority so that you can continue to provide care for your loved one.
Now more than ever, family caregivers are faced with the stress that comes with caring for an aging loved one. Our free Family Caregiver Stress Solutions Guide offers tips and strategies on how to accept and manage stress while you take on the responsibility of caregiving. Download Stress Solutions: A Family Caregiver Guide to Less Stress