Nearly 66 million Americans care for aging, ill, or disabled loved ones. And, 13 million caregivers are also caring for their own children. What is “caregiver stress”? It is a multidimensional response to the burden of taking care of a loved one for an extended period of time. The quality of life is affected as the caregiver’s physical and psychological health is threatened whereby quality of life is harmed.
31% of family caregivers admit they’d like more help. The Journal of American Medical Association reports that if you are a spousal caregiver between the ages of 66 and 96, and are experiencing ongoing mental or emotional strain as a result of your caregiving duties, there’s a 63% increased risk of dying over those people in the same age group who are not caring for a spouse. A recent stress test conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network demonstrated that of the family caregivers who participated, 77% reported their aging loved one’s needs to be overwhelming, 90% said they have episodes of feeling anxious or irritable, 77% say caregiving is taking a toll on their family lives, and 56% seem to become ill more frequently.
So how do you know if caregiving is becoming too risky for you? Examine this list and see how many apply to you:
- Ignoring your own health problems or symptoms
- Lack of healthy diet and/or exercise
- Overusing tobacco and/or alcohol when you feel stressed
- Losing sleep and/or connections with social support
- Feeling down or hopeless, resentful or frustrated, isolated
- Loss of energy or diminished interest in pleasurable activities
What do you do to manage your caregiver stress? Take note of this list in order to make changes:
- Work out and eat well
- Meditate and/or pray to focus on self-appreciation
- Ask for help and find support
- Take a break and take care of yourself
- Find resources to provide respite
- Maintain a life outside of caregiving