A caregiver is anyone who aids another person in need, such as a disabled spouse, ill child, or aging parent. However, family members caring for senior adults is becoming more common in the U.S., as baby boomers grow older. In fact, one out of every three adults in the United States provides care to an aging adult. Despite the large percentage of family members providing care, many don’t recognize their role as a caregiver, and even more are unable to recognize when they’re feeling stressed.
Caregiver Stress is a Real Thing
Providing in-home care to an aging parent or other family member can be rewarding for many reasons. For most caregivers, being available when a loved one needs someone is an important part of providing care. However, having to balance work and life responsibilities with care-giving can cause high levels of physical and emotional stress. Signs of caregiver stress include:
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or sad
- Feeling abandoned by others, such as family members or friends
- Worrying often
- Feeling tired
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling irritated or angry
- Difficulty sleeping
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Aches, pains, or other physical problems
- Drinking alcohol or using drugs, including abusing prescription medications
Overtime, those who experience caregiver stress can become vulnerable to diminished health. Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health.
Risk Factors for Caregiver Stress
In-home caregivers are more likely than non-caregivers to experience depression and anxiety, suffer from lack of sleep, and become malnourished, all of which increase one’s risk of health complications and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:
- Being female
- Having no formal education
- Living with the person you’re providing care for
- Having limited social interaction
- Struggling financially
- Receiving no help with caregiving duties
- Having poor coping skills and problem-solving capabilities
- Lack of choice in being a caregiver
Too much stress, especially over a long period of time, can harm your health. To help manage caregiver stress, it’s important to set realistic goals, see your physician regularly, and accept help when needed.
It may be difficult for you to take time away from your aging loved one, but taking a break from caregiving duties may be the best thing you can do for yourself and the person you’re caring for. The VNA provides in-home healthcare and respite care services at our Grand Oaks of Palm City and Grand Oaks of Jensen Beach assisted living communities.
The team of compassionate and professional caregivers at the VNA can provide a number of in-home services, including assistance with ADLs, physical therapy, rehabilitation, speech therapy, and more. If you’re still not sure if quality home healthcare by the VNA is right for you and your family, our respite care services provide a temporary break from your caregiving duties and caregiver stress.