Given the challenges of the caregiver role today, the odds are good that if you’re caring for an elderly loved one you have increased stress in your life. “Caregiver stress” is defined as “a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude – from positive and caring to negative and apathetic.”
While it is often said that stress “comes with the territory,” suffering from its potentially debilitating effects does not. One very serious effect of severe stress is clinical depression. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and to make sure you are taking adequate steps to protect your own health and well-being. An unhealthy caregiver is much less capable of fulfilling their already difficult role.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
- You no longer participate in activities you once enjoyed
- You have experienced changes in your appetite, weight or both
- You have become withdrawn from friends and family
- Your sleeping patterns have changed and you often feel tired
- You feel sad, irritable, hopeless and helpless
- You get upset more quickly and more frequently than normal
- You get ill more often
- You lack concentration, even with the simplest tasks
- You are “in denial” about the severity and eventual outcome of your loved one’s disease
- You have increased anxiety about life in general
Typically, serious caregiver stress is not the result of a single event, but rather a combination of several circumstances and experiences. The 24/7 demands of caring for your loved one can exact a heavy toll on your mind, body and spirit. Recognizing and getting help for your caregiver challenges is not an act of self-pity or selfishness. It merely enables you to become a healthier, better, more capable caregiver.
For more information on how North Woods Village can help you and your loved one recognize caregiver stress, contact us today!