It is commendable if you want to help to care for your loved one. However, if you serve as a caregiver, it is important for you to understand how doing so might affect your own well-being. Some people who care for their loved ones experience caregiver role strain. At Elder Care Direction, we can help by providing you with some resources that might help you to protect your own needs while you care for your loved one.
What is caregiver role strain?
Caregiver role strain occurs when you are overwhelmed by your tasks and are unable to provide the care that your loved one needs to the best of your ability. You might also feel stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Caregiver role strain can result from multiple situations. The increase in responsibility combined with the expenses that are involved with taking care of your loved one can cause you to feel severe stress. You might also feel drained when your loved one has difficult medical symptoms. For example, people who have Alzheimer’s disease commonly have difficulties with sleep, and they may also be irritable and distressed. You might also be overwhelmed by the change in your family dynamic and your new role as a caregiver.
What are the signs that you are experiencing caregiver role strain?
A certain degree of stress is normal when you are taking care of a loved one. Caregiver role strain is something more than a normal stress level. It can involve feelings of anger, loneliness, and guilt. Some of the symptoms of caregiver role strain include the following:
- Sleep problems
- Appetite changes
- Frequent crying
- Disinterest in sex
- Loss of interest in hobbies
Many of these symptoms are also symptoms of depression. Caregiver role strain can worsen depression that you might already suffer from. If you need help, it is important that you reach out to others. Doing so will improve both your life as well as your loved one’s life.
How to prevent caregiver role strain
Fortunately, it is possible for you to take some steps to prevent caregiver role strain from developing. Here are some proactive steps that you can take to prevent it from happening.
Pay attention to your health
You should make certain that you do not neglect your health while you take care of your loved one. Failing to take care of your health can cause you to develop an illness. Taking care of your health can place you in a position from which you can provide better care for your loved one.
Taking care of your health should involve doing the following things:
- Get sufficient sleep every day;
- Exercise daily;
- Eat nutritious meals;
- Don’t drink too much alcohol;
- Eat meals with your loved one; and
- Remember to have fun and to laugh.
If your loved one is able, you might try exercising with each other. Some exercises such as yoga or Tai chi can be beneficial to both of you and can reduce your stress.
Be aware of your own behavior
Caregiving may cause you to feel impatient. Be aware of how you are behaving and take steps to prevent yourself from becoming angry. If you feel angry, take a break and spend some time by yourself until you can regroup.
Treating caregiver role strain
If you are already experiencing caregiver role strain, there are some additional steps that you can take to treat it. Here are a few other tips that you can follow to reduce the strain that you feel.
Good organization can help you to maintain your sanity. Keep a schedule and write down everything that you need to do each day. Make certain that you remain flexible. Order your to-do list by the importance of each task. If you can’t complete something, don’t worry about it.
Have a support system
Don’t forget to build a support system for yourself. Talk to your friends, other family members, or a counselor when you are experiencing strain. Don’t withdraw from others. Let the people who are close to you know what you feel. Schedule some time away from your loved one with your friends.
Communicate with your loved one
Make sure to communicate your feelings to your loved one. Keep an open line of communication, and schedule fun activities that you both enjoy.
If you begin feeling stressed out and exhausted, recognize that experiencing caregiver role strain is common. Take steps to prevent it from occurring and to care for yourself.
Contact Elder Care Direction
Taking on the role of a caregiver for your loved one can be difficult. Elder Care Direction can help you to identify ways that you can prevent caregiver role strain. Contact us today by filling out our contact form.