It is estimated that 34 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult that is 50 or more years old. 66% of caregivers are women. Being a caregiver might include tasks such as shopping, providing transportation, or help with cleaning, or could be much more involved and include grooming, bathing, managing finances, feeding, or assistance with dressing and toileting. Although most people willingly become caregivers and find much reward in being able to help care for the ones they love, it does not come without a price. The toll is physical, mental, and emotional for most caregivers, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. They often feel like they are on call 24/7 and end up neglecting themselves in the process of being a caregiver. Compounding this stress for many is the sad reality of watching loved ones slowly deteriorate despite all your efforts.
It is vital to get the physical and emotional support you need as a caregiver, or you run the risk of becoming susceptible to any number of problems. Some of the common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout include: feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, fatigued, troubled sleep, poor concentration, feelings of resentment, neglecting your own responsibilities, low energy, increased drinking or smoking, and less engagement with your friends and hobbies.
There are a number of things you can do for yourself as a caregiver in order to remain vital and healthy. Foremost is taking some time for yourself. Enlist the aid of others when and where possible to ensure you have time for yourself so you can recharge your batteries. Having the appropriate mental mind set is also important. Try to focus on acceptance. Realize there are things you cannot control including the struggles or deterioration of your loved one. Celebrate the small victories and rejoice in the closeness this role has brought to you and your loved one. Because your loved one may be burdened with illness, pain, or dementia, they may not express the gratitude they normally would. Remind yourself of what they would tell you if they were in a better state of being. You will also need to applaud your own efforts and draw a sense of pride and worth from doing the noble thing. Be sure to talk to friends and other family for support. Your feelings are important and need an outlet. Consider joining a caregiver support group or seeing a therapist for yourself.
If you want to talk with one of our therapists about other ways to help navigate the caregiver role and stressors that come along with it, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.
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