Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caregiver Stress

Dealing with Caregiver Stress
                                     Susan E. Thompson, MSW, LCSW
                                     Licensed Clinical Social Worker 

Stress is a very real consequence of the ongoing responsibilities of caregivers on top of their own personal life's demands.  The term "hidden patients" refers to those folks that have taken on the tasks of caregiving for their loved ones - in various capacities. Sometimes it involves actually living with the patient - other times it is caring for the patient’s needs by periodic visits or remotely coordinating support for them.

The stress can be emotional, physical and financial. It can lead to burnout if not dealt with properly.  Caregiver stress can manifest itself in various symptoms:
               -Feeling Trapped, Anxious or Depressed
               -Feeling Exhausted and Overwhelmed
               -Feeling Helpless/Weary and easily Agitated
               -Guilt -for Feeling what you are Feeling

It is so important - and yet often difficult to get or accept help for ourselves and our loved ones. First, you must recognize there is a problem.  Second, you must be willing to do something different.  Consider trying the following:

Set realistic goals for yourself.

Set priorities - daily, weekly, etc.

Avoid being a perfectionist. (A guaranteed recipe for frustration.)

Learn to say "No" to invites, to activities that only serve to stress you further.

Allow others to help you - if you have someone to whom you can delegate a task - give them something specific to do for example, sit with loved one for a few hours one day while you take a break.

Utilize community services where available for: day respite programs, meal delivery or medical appointment transportation for your loved one.

Consider hiring an individual or service to help with those tasks that would help YOU the most. Have them help with:

   Sitting with Patient - companion services
   Transportation to medical appointments
   Paying bills
   Light housekeeping/laundry assistance

-Plan something fun/enjoyable for yourself at least weekly so that you have something to look forward to. Go out to a movie or have dinner with a friend.

-Stay in touch with someone you can talk to - friend, therapist or neighbor.

Remember.... Taking care of you is not selfish it enables you to continue to be available to help care for those you love.

                                                                                   Printed with permission


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