According to studies, over half of caregivers have depression, with a majority of them experiencing what is commonly called “caregiver stress” according to Senior Care Center.
This isn’t surprising when you consider how many people who are caring for a parent have multiple other responsibilities that they are juggling as well. Full-time jobs, raising their children, along with household responsibilities all add to levels of stress that are already high. As part of this process, it is very common for caregivers to put aside their own well-being, feelings, and health. This can be very damaging and lead to a wide range of physical conditions including guilt, sadness, and anxiety. If you need help caring for a loved one, or some advice contact Senior Care Center.
So, if you are caring for an aging parent, Senior Care Center advised us that you should recognize the following warning signs, and then immediately deal with your stress.
- Feelings of depression, hopelessness, and dread
- Unexplained irritability
- Difficulties with focusing on other aspects of your life, and potentially resulting in reduced work performance
- Recurrent colds, stomach aches, and headaches
- Weight gain or loss, and changed eating habits
- Exhaustion, fatigue, and difficulties with sleeping, either too little or too much
- Social withdrawal from friends and activities
- Unusual anger, moodiness, or sadness
When you are caring for other people, it is also critical that you make your own health a top priority. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
Make lists, and get a daily routine established. Track all of the tasks that need to get done, and then prioritize, balance, and delegate responsibilities. Most important of all, change your schedule in order to avoid exhaustion and anxiety.
Whenever you need it, make sure you ask for help. Getting support from loved ones and friends is a sign of strength and not of weakness. It is critically important that you take good care for yourself so that you can provide your parent with quality care. Beyond immediately family members, many cities have adult care and other types of services available for the elderly. There are also many churches that provide senior programs. With friendly and safe environments and lots of activities offered, make use of outside care in order to give your parent and you a well-deserved break.
Take good care of both your mind and body. In addition to exercising on a regular basis, you should also follow a balanced diet as well, and take the time to get together with friends, enjoy a hobby, and simply to relax. Although it can be hard to leave the care of your parent in somebody else’s hands, it is critical for you to have a break, for at least a couple of hours. If you neglect your own emotional and physical health, you will be left vulnerable to exhaustion and disease.
Get help if you are feeling depressed. Caregivers are at very high risk for depression, however, many people do not even realize they are depressed. Those feelings develop over time and if they are not treated will grow progressively worse. Instead of just hoping the condition will disappear, seek medical help instead. That can make a significant difference.
Talk with a close friend, support group, or counselor on a regular basis. Although you might not want to talk about your frustrations and feelings, it can be beneficial to have an outlet for these emotions. A parent might have behavioral problems – wandering away from home, hitting, yelling – that may stir up painful and unfamiliar emotions. A sympathetic listener can provide the perspective, comfort, and support that you need to get through your day.
It is well worth noting that it can be very challenging to care for an elderly parent but also can have positive effects on your entire family. It provides you with a strong sense of purpose, the opportunity to nurture and strengthen an intergenerational bond, and that positive feeling of knowing you are making a big difference in your parent’s life.