If you are the primary caregiver for a grandchild, spouse, parent or another family member, you have an increased risk of significant health problems. This is worsened if you take on too many stressful duties without getting any help. Of course, being a caregiver can be very rewarding if you have the right support, but there are some things you need to know to avoid burnout.
No Pay But Overwhelming Joy
In the United Kingdom, caregiving is being called the fastest growing unpaid profession. A lot of caregivers have a range of challenging tasks to complete which includes preparing meals and bathing the person they care for. They will also need to escort them to doctor visits and manage their medication.
When looking at this, it is not surprising that the strain of caregiving can take a heavy toll both emotionally and physically. A lot of caregivers are so busy looking after others that they neglect their own health both mental and physical.
The mental toll on carers is generally the greatest and an estimated 30% to 40% of caregivers for those with dementia suffer from high levels of stress and depression. They are also more likely to require antidepressants and other anti-anxiety medication than the average person. If these issues are not treated, they can lead to severe depression. This is one of the reasons why caregivers need to focus on their own mental and physical health.
If you are a caregiver who is dealing with stress, there are some coping mechanisms that you need to consider. There are also some tips that you should consider.
Ask For Help
You need to ask for help and try to avoid being a sole caregiver. This could mean asking siblings or adult children for help with car rides or shopping. Family and friends, government agencies, members of your place of worship and local organisations are a source of potential support and help – one such organisation provides home care in Wokingham, Berkshire, and their aim is to provide companionship and support to those who need it, whilst helping them to maintain a level of independence. There are support organisations and hospitals link new caregivers with more experienced caregivers or social workers to help coordinate assistance.
Let It All Out
You need to take the time to talk to a friend, family member or counsellor about what you are feeling. You can also get some support from a local support group. Research has found that carers with emotional outlets and a support network suffer from less stress and fewer health problems than carers without.
Getting some physical activity is not only good for your body, but it is also good for the brain. During exercise, endorphins are released to the brain and this will promote your feeling of well-being. All you need to do is get 30-minutes of activity such as walking most days of the week. Regular and balanced meals that are low in fat, high in vegetables and fruits will also help you avoid excess weight gain and help you stay fit.
Have A Hobby
You need to take the time each week to do something that you actually enjoy such as watching a movie or reading a book. If possible, you should try taking a break from caregiving and go on a short holiday. This could mean that you have to ask other family members to stand in for a few days or contact a respite care provider.
Seek Professional Help
If you are unsure of what help you need or feel overwhelmed by the logistics of caregiving, you need to talk to a professional. Your doctor will be able to recommend local support services or help you get in touch with a social worker. Occupational therapists can also help you evaluate what is needed and make recommendations on what should happen. It is important to note that insurance will often cover in-house assessments.
Short-term respite care providers will help you by sending a professional to your home to care for your loved one temporarily. There are also short-stay facilities where this can also be arranged.