If you are the primary care giver to a loved one, you know the toll that it can take on you physically, mentally and emotionally. Even though caring for someone can be very rewarding, it can also be very stressful and without the proper knowledge, support and skills, you are at a higher risk of burnout.
Here are some facts that you need to be aware of if you are providing any type of care for another person:
Hard Work, No Pay
Caring is considered to be the largest unpaid profession in the UK. Not only is there no financial reward but the job includes tasks that are often overwhelming such as taking care of personal and home cleaning and hygiene, meal preparation, managing and administering medication, driving to and from medical appointments and much, much more.
One of the greatest factors affecting care givers is the stress that is involved with the task. They often neglect their personal emotional, mental and physical needs in the act of providing for the emotional and physical needs of another.
However, the mental and emotional stress often have the greatest impact. It is estimated that up to 40% of caregivers working with dementia patients are likely to experience elevated stress levels and/or depression at some point. As a result, they are also more likely to require antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and therapy by a qualified medical practitioner in order to prevent extreme depression which is the inevitable result without the proper treatment. Looking after your own health and overall well being is therefore essential as a caregiver.
Strategies For Coping As A Caregiver
1. Ask For Help
It is often easy to fall into a trap where you try to do everything yourself. Ask friends and family to assist in taking care of some of the tasks such as shopping for groceries or taking the loved one for medical appointments. You can also find support form a variety of different government agencies, religious, charity and local volunteer organisations. Look for hospitals or facilities that pair inexperienced caregivers with experienced caregivers or a social worker to provide additional learning and support. These organisations will also help coordinate care between different family members and friends so that you don’t have to carry the burden alone. Gabriel’s Angels is a great organisation if you’re looking for help with home care in Wokingham.
2. Talk About It
Most caregivers don’t talk about the emotional impact that caring for someone can have as they don’t want to sound as if they are complaining. However, it is important to talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling. Alternatively, find a support group in your area where other carers can relate to what you are experiencing. Research shows that those who talk about their problems are less likely to suffer from stress and depression.
3. Get Physical
Although caring can be a very physical task, it is still important to exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain which are responsible for “good” and “happy” emotions. Walking for just 30 minutes every day can give you the boost that you need. Regular, balanced meals that provide for all your nutritional needs along with regular exercise is the ideal way to get fit and stay healthy.
4. Get A Hobby
Take time out of your caring schedule when you can do an activity or hobby that you enjoy. Even if this is just reading a good book or catching the latest movie, it is important to take a break from regular caring and let someone else take charge for a while. If friends and family members can’t assist, then hire a respite care giver to get a much needed break.
5. Get Professional Help
If you feel as if you aren’t coping and are simply overwhelmed with the multiple and complex tasks involved with providing care for another person, make an appointment to see your doctor. Not only will they be able to provide you with the medical help that you may need but they can also recommend support services in the community, a social worker, nurse or other type of therapist to provide an in-home assessment of the patients needs. These assessments are often covered by insurance and will help determine whether any safety renovations are necessary and provide you with additional recommendations for more effective in-home care.
Respite care provides a short-term solution from a professional healthcare practitioner who will provide temporary care for your loved one. Nursing and assisted living facilities also offer part-time or short-term caring options.
In spite of the fact that many caregivers may feel overburdened by the responsibility of providing care, about a third of care providers report positive emotional well being. The ability to give something back to a loved one and fulfilling this important duty is rewarding in itself.