When caregivers suffer stress and stress-related health problems, it affects their ability to provide care. Committing to new habits that put your own well-being at the top of your to-do list can help.
Poor sleep, weight loss, exhaustion, headaches and depression. These are just some of the signs of caregiver stress. According to a survey from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, caregivers say that their top unmet needs include:
The National Coalition of Caregivers has found that more than 65 million Americans serve as caregivers. Many of those caregivers also work full or part-time jobs. Caregivers who feel overburdened and guilty because they can only spread themselves so far will burn out and potentially develop their own serious health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes or cognitive decline.
As a caregiver, know that you do not have to do everything on your own. People and local resources are available to help. Most importantly, take the necessary steps to lower your stress level to ensure your well-being. Otherwise, you will not be able to care for someone else effectively.
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Stress is a normal part of a caregiver’s job. But, if you can incorporate the skills listed above into your routine, you will have a better chance of reigning in your stress before it takes a toll on your health. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a Caregiver Stress Check that you can use to gauge your stress level. Be sure to talk to your doctor if your stress check indicates that your health might be at risk.
What life skills have helped lower your stress as a caregiver? Please share your thoughts below.