There’s no doubt that caring for an aging loved one can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Making a positive difference in the life of someone you care about can give you a sense of purpose, allow you to grow your relationship and strengthen your bond to that person.
However, caregiving does require hard work and dedication, often day-in and day-out. Caregivers are often relentless in their duties, sometimes sacrificing social plans, vacations and even their own doctor appointments to continue providing the around-the-clock care their loved ones need. Plus, many caregivers often go at their duties alone, without any support from other family members or professionals.
What is Caregiver Stress Syndrome?
In the United States, 29 percent of the population (around 65 million individuals) provide unpaid care to an aging, disabled or chronically ill loved one, spending upwards of 20 hours each week on caregiving duties. Of these caregivers, as many as one in three report their stress levels as high, and that they are neglecting their own health or losing out on time spent doing things they enjoy.
Caregiver stress syndrome occurs when caregivers report that providing care to an individual has led to the following negative health effects:
- High blood pressure
- Compromised immune system
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
Not only can caregiver stress syndrome harm your overall health, it can make you a less effective caregiver, too.
Caregiver Burnout: Symptoms to Recognize
If you find you frequently feel tense or drained around your loved one, that your health and/or social life is suffering, and that you aren’t sure how much longer you can provide the best care, these are all signs of caregiver stress and burnout.
To ensure your overall health and wellness, it’s important to be able to recognize these signs. This way, you can make the proper adjustments to your lifestyle and ease some of your daily stress. Caregiver burnout symptoms include:
- Feelings of exhaustion. Caregivers often don’t get enough sleep, especially if you’re caring for a loved one with dementia. Sometimes you may actually make it a point to get a good night’s sleep, but the next day you’re still tired and disorientated. These feelings of exhaustion not only affect your health, but can lead to a lack of empathy or inability to find joy in anything you do.
- Weakened immune system. Stress, especially combined with lack of sleep, takes a toll on your immune system. If it seems like you’re getting sick more often these days, it could be your body trying to tell you it needs a break.
- Extreme mood swings. Caregiving often elicits a wide range of emotions, and can cause you to feel out of character–from being happy one minute to feeling extremely irritated the next. Feelings of depression or hopelessness are other common caregiver burnout symptoms. If you aren’t taking care to manage these emotions, you won’t be able to provide the care your loved one needs.
- Withdrawing from activities. Most caregivers recognize the importance of staying active, both physically and socially, but feel like they simply don’t have enough time in the day. Remember, everyone needs to take a break from time to time to focus on themselves for a while.
- Difficulty relaxing even when receiving help. You might find it difficult to relinquish control over your loved one’s care when family or friends offer to help. However, it’s important to accept help so you can relax and attend to your own needs.
Caregiver Support at Concordia Life Care Community
Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, join Concordia for our Caregivers Support Meeting hosted by our caregiving expert, Mel Roberts. This event is open to the public, and offers caregiver resources and support to those who need it most. Please call (405) 720-7200 to RSVP or fill out our form today.
If you’d like to learn more about Concordia, contact us to schedule a visit to see all our beautiful community has to offer.