Caregiving is one of the most rewarding, yet difficult jobs, anyone can have. Caring for a senior is a difficult task, and when a diagnosis like dementia or Alzheimer’s is added to the mix, it can make the situation worse for a caregiver on the brink of burnout.
For family caregivers, caring for an elderly loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can be challenging. The burden of caregiving can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health – which is why it’s important to know the signs of caregiver stress and how to manage these feelings.
Several companies and associations like Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging agree that caregiver stress is not only real, but needs to be dealt with to avoid caregiver burnout.
If you are a caregiver who is experiencing stress, read below to learn more about how you can better care for yourself and avoid caregiver burnout.
1. Ask for Help When You Need It
As a caregiver, it is okay to feel emotional and overwhelmed. Many times, caregivers do not want to ask for help because they think they can handle everything alone. However, sometimes, just admitting that we need help is the best thing we can do for ourselves. If you behind to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, it may be time to reach out and ask for help.
This could mean reaching out to family and friends and asking for extra support in your life, hiring help, so you can take some time off, or in more serious cases, seeking out professional help from a therapist or counselor.
Whatever your situation might be, we encourage you to ask for help. When there is someone willing to provide support, emotionally or otherwise, it can relieve stress off your shoulders.
2. Talk to Friends and Family Members
When you reach out and ask for help, start by reaching out to loved ones who are close to you and understand your situation. Be open and honest to them about how you are feeling, and allow them to provide you support.
Make sure that you are in a place where you can discuss how you feel, even if it takes a while. Don’t just mention how you feel in passing, but deliberately sit down with a loved one and take the time you need to express your feelings.
Spending time with a loved one is a great stress outlet, especially for caregivers. It can help them feel validated, supported, and encourage them to keep going so they can be there for their senior in need.
3. Spend Time Doing What You Love
Oftentimes, caregivers feel so caught up in their daily tasks for someone else, that they forget about their own interests and hobbies.
Not keeping up with the things you love can not only cause regret later on, but it can cause resentment for the people around you – especially the person you are caring for. Don’t let these feelings bottle up against your senior loved one, but instead try to make time for your interests and hobbies as much as you can.
If you are able to do the things you love at least once a week, it can become a stress outlet for you, and remind you that your life and interests matter too.
4. Stay Healthy
Staying healthy is vital when dealing with caregiver stress, or any type of stress, really. Eating right and staying physically active go hand in hand in combatting stress.
Try creating a meal plan that includes heart healthy food to boost your energy and keep your body functioning properly. If you have a limited schedule, explore easy to make meals, or take healthy snacks with you wherever you go.
Have a regular exercise regimen, and try to work out for at least 30 minutes each day. Try to walk, jog, or bike around your neighborhood each day. Or if the weather is bad, and you are unable to go outside, there are plenty of online exercise tutorials that you can follow to stay on top of your health. When you exercise, your brain produces endorphins – these are natural “painkillers” for your body that not only help combat stress, but can improve sleep as well.
Lastly, visit your doctor on a regular basis. Be sure that you check up on your overall health at least once a year. If you have health concerns or questions, call your doctor and ask for their help. Make sure that you are open and honest when discussing your health, and discuss the best options for you regarding nutrition and exercise.
5. Get Sufficient Sleep
It is easy to become tired, careless, and even slightly grumpy when you aren’t getting the right amount of sleep each night. Our advice? Each night, try to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you have to be up early in the morning, go to bed at a reasonable time and avoid late nights.
For some people, getting to sleep or staying asleep can be challenging on its own. If you have difficulty falling asleep, you can try meditating before bed, drinking warm tea, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment. These are bedtime routines can be incredibly helpful to your sleep cycle. Your activities during the day can affect the way you sleep too! By exercising each day, eating a healthy dinner, and avoiding or limiting naps, your sleep schedule and your overall mood can improve.
Journaling can be a great stress relieving activity. Not only are you able to keep a record of important dates and activities, but you can also track progress and growth, gain self-confidence, find inspiration, and strengthen your memory skills.
If you are not sure what to write about, or feel as though you have nothing to report, you can use the journal as a way to write down your goals and plan out how you want to achieve them. You can even use the journal to simply write down what you are grateful for or what’s been on your mind lately.
Self reflection and an honest report of your day-to-day life can have a positive impact on your mindset, and carry through to everything you do.
7. Join a Caregiver Support Group
Lastly, if you find yourself looking for support from those who understand your struggles, joining a caregiver support group is a great way to relieve stress and find effective help. When you are around others who understand your situation, talking with them can create strong social ties, provide stress relieving ideas, ideas on how to better care for your client, and so much more.
You can find a caregiver support group in your area by searching for one on the internet, or if there are none to be found in your area, consider creating one! Try to meet at least once a week with these other caregivers, their friendship and support can provide you the assistance you need to be a healthier, happier caregiver.
Being a caregiver is no easy task. If you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, don’t let it build up – this can quickly lead to burnout. You can utilize these helpful tips to help relieve stress, and continue being an effective caregiving to your client or loved one in need.
If you require additional support, or need to take time for consistent respite care, Home Care Assistance Dayton can help. Our high-quality caregivers are available to help you and your aging loved ones. Speak with a care advisor now at (937) 353-7997
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