According to a study by Harvard University, more than 65 million Americans – two-thirds of whom are women – are taking care of a disabled, ailing, or aging family member. Anyone who has assumed this responsibility will tell you that caring for their loved one has been an enriching experience for them, but it’s also been one of the most stressful, and has even affected their health.
More than 20% of caregivers report their health has suffered due to the stress they’ve experienced as a caregiver. If you’re now taking care of a loved one and are starting to feel the stress, you may want to consider the following ways to reduce your caregiver stress.
1. Take Care of Your Health
You’re much better prepared to take care of someone else when your own physical condition is secure. There are simple steps you can build into your routine to help keep you in tip-top condition:
- Eat well
- Get adequate sleep
- Have the recommended screenings, shots, and check-ups
These are four things you can do that will make a big difference in your energy level and your overall feeling of well-being.
2. Enlist Others
Few people can do it alone. You’ll often get help if you ask family members and close friends to share the care. They may not be able to provide hands-on care, but they may be able to help with some tasks such as coordinating medical appointments, handling insurance paperwork, and grocery shopping.
3. Take an occasional break.
Without question, stress builds quickly if you’re caring for someone who needs constant attention. Take a few minutes for a walk outside or chat with a friend – it can make a world of difference. For a more extended break, be sure to have some fun when you have a full day to yourself. Take in a movie or meet a friend for lunch.
4. Create a Support System for Yourself
Even with help, you’re likely to need emotional support. Many hospitals, health care plans, and faith-based organizations offer support groups for caregivers. They’re a good place to vent your feelings and share ideas with others in your situation.
Visiting with a counselor can also help ease your stress level. Caregivers are at greater risk of depression. A therapist can help you walk through the emotions you can feel as a caregiver, including inadequacy, guilt, regret, and resentment. If you don’t know where to find a therapist, ask your primary care physician for a referral.
Let AmeriCare Plus Help With Caregiver Stress
AmeriCare Plus offers many services to families caring for loved ones, including respite care. While you’re practicing self-care, our qualified caregivers can provide companionship, light housekeeping, home-cooked meals and nutrition management, transportation for appointments and social outings, and more.
Call us today at (844) 407-CARE (2273). We’re here to help.