Taking care of one of your elderly friends or relatives can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Making sure that your loved one is being properly taken care of means you can sleep comfortably at night and can also bring you closely to them in their older years.
Being a caregiver, however, can also be quite difficult for a person. You may encounter both physical and emotional difficulties when doing the role and it is important that you make sure you look after yourself as well.
One of the biggest problems you may encounter as a caregiver is stress. The role can be incredibly frustrating and it can also be very difficult to watch a loved one suffer on a daily basis. It is absolutely essential that you take steps to help alleviate that stress. The following are some useful tips on how to do so.
Signs of feeling stressed
Sometimes it may not always be apparent if you are suffering from stress or not. These are the most common signs that you are suffering from caregiving related stress:
- Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired all of the time or having an irregular sleep pattern. This can include sleeping too much or too little. It is very easy to assume that this is because of the workload you are putting in.
- Feeling sad: Having feelings of sadness or depression is a big red flag that you are beginning to feel stress related to work. If you are feeling depressed you should seek some help and speak to those around you.
- Short-tempered: If you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated and angry in your day to day life, then this could be a result of some caregiving related stress. You may also find yourself being irrational in a number of situations and being quick to react to situations. This can have a detrimental effect on other areas of your life and it is something you should be conscious of.
- Loss of interest: One of the most subtle signs that you are beginning to feel stressed is that you slowly begin to lose interest in the things that you would usually enjoy. This can include simple things like not keeping up with a TV show that you regularly watch, or canceling plans with friends and not feeling like you want to go out or do anything.
Accept help from others
When we are caring for a loved one, it is easy to feel as though the responsibility for their care rests solely on our shoulders. The idea of someone else having to come in and take care of them can often make us feel guilty and if it is your partner or parent, you are likely to feel an overwhelming sense of duty.
Getting some extra help, whether it is from a friend, another family member, or from a trained professional, is one of the best things you can do to help alleviate the stress you are feeling.
Take up a hobby
When you are looking after a loved one all the time, it is easy to forget about your own interests and put them before yourself. While it is important to make sure that you are providing them with the right amount of care, it is also important not to allow your own well-being to slip.
You may struggle to find the time for your hobbies when you are giving care to somebody else and if that is the case, then you should consider taking up some new hobbies which also provide you with the time to look after your loved one and fulfill your role as a caregiver.
Make time for yourself
Being a caregiver can quickly begin to feel like a full-time job and if you are juggling that with your work you may soon begin to feel as though you have little to no time for yourself.
If you have no time on your own, you may soon begin to grow frustrated or resentful and you may begin to take it out on those you care about. The best thing to do is to allocate a slot in your schedule where you can just have some alone time.
Whether it’s going for a walk, going to the cinema, or simply having an evening at home on your own, it is important that you do this. You can always leave your loved one with a useful phone for seniors that they can use to contact you if they need to get in touch.
Speak to somebody/ Seek professional help
If you are beginning to feel that the stress of caregiving is becoming too much, then you should consider seeking some professional help.
Talking to a trained professional and having an outlet for your concerns can be hugely beneficial for both you and your loved one. If you would rather not seek trained help, then you should make sure that you have a trusted family member or friend who is willing to listen to your concerns and help you through any issues you may be having. Sometimes, simply being able to vocalize an issue can be enough to make you feel a little bit better about it.
Find a support group
When life gets difficult, it is easy to think that it is just happening to you. This mentality can lead to you becoming more stressed though and it is important to remember that there are other people who are also in a similar situation.
In some cases, these people may get together in support groups and share their experiences with one another. Support groups can be an excellent way of coming to terms with your emotions and also to get advice from other people who are also caregivers.
If there are no support groups available in your area, then you could always try to start one and use things like social media to attempt to find other caregivers who need support.