Stress Management for Family Caregivers
Being a family caregiver is a demanding role. As a family caregiver, you play an essential role in helping to ensure the health and wellbeing of your loved one. However, this critical role can also be quite stressful. You are responsible for providing care and support to your loved one while also managing your own life. It is not surprising that caregivers often feel stressed without stress management.
One of the most important things you can do as a family caregiver is to learn to manage your stress effectively. This will help you stay focused on your loved one's needs while maintaining your health and wellbeing. Some familiar sources of stress for caregivers include:
- Physical demands: Caregiving often involves physically demanding tasks, such as lifting, feeding, or assisting with bathing or grooming. If you are not used to these activities, they can quickly become overwhelming and lead to increased stress levels.
- Emotional toll: Caregiving can be an emotionally challenging experience at times. You may feel frustrated by the changes in your loved one's personality or mental functioning, You may feel overwhelmed by their increasing needs. Seeing your loved one suffer can also be challenging to handle emotionally.
- Lifestyle changes: Caregiving can often lead to significant changes in your lifestyle. You may have to give up work or social activities to care for your loved one. Thus, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Financial burden: The cost of medical care and other expenses related to caregiving can often be a financial strain on families. This stress may be exacerbated if you are already struggling to make ends meet.
Suggestions for Stress Management and Reduction
If you are struggling with stress as a family caregiver, fortunately, there are things that you can do to manage the stress. Here are five suggestions for stress management:
1. Make Time for Self-Care
Being a caregiver requires a lot of energy and stamina - both physically and emotionally. It is essential to take time for yourself each day. Take a walk outside or get some quiet time alone. Thus, making sure that you schedule time for yourself is essential in helping to reduce stress. It is also necessary to take breaks throughout the day, even if it is just for a few minutes. Step outside for fresh air, take a hot bath or read your favorite book.
Practicing deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help reduce stress and improve mood. Find an activity that you enjoy and try to do it regularly. Creating a schedule and sticking to it can help you feel more in control of your situation.
2. Seek Out Emotionally Supportive Relationships
As a family caregiver, it can be easy to isolate yourself from the outside world. However, having close relationships with others can be a great source of support and help provide social interaction and engagement.
Even if you do not feel like talking about your caregiving role, simply being around people who understand what you are going through can make a big difference in managing stress levels.
3. Utilize Community Resources
There are many different community resources available that can offer support and assistance to caregivers facing various challenges related to caregiving, such as accessing specialized medical care, financial aid, transportation needs, or emotional support. Research local community resources and see what programs may be available in your area to help you manage your stress as a caregiver.
4. Seek Assistance
Reaching out to friends, family members, or professionals for help can make a big difference. Ask your loved one's doctor or social worker for recommendations of services that may be available in your area. You could also contact local support groups specifically designed for caregivers.
5. Savor the Small Moments
Try to focus on the positive parts of caregiving rather than the negative ones. When things don't go as planned, take time to reflect on all the good things that happen throughout the day - even small moments like holding your loved one's hand, seeing them smile, or hearing their laughter. These moments are what make caregiving so special.
Learn More About Stress Management for Family Caregivers
When it comes to managing stress, every little bit helps. Taking some time for yourself and reaching out for help when you need it can make caregiving a more positive experience for both you and your loved one.
Your senior loved one may be eligible for NY State's CDPAP program. The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is designed to empower individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses by giving them more choice and control over their care.
Individuals with NY Medicaid can choose their caregiver (anyone except for their spouse or designated representative) and the state will compensate the caregiver for their care. This can help relieve the financial burdern that many family caregivers face when confronting giving up their job or caring for their senior relative while working.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.