January 9, 2023

When the start of a new year arrives, it’s a time when many of us take stock of things — our mental and physical health, our energy, and our wishes and hopes for the months ahead.

For those of us in caregiver roles to elderly loved ones, though, it can be hard to feel like we ever reach a place of balance. All too often, caregivers feel overwhelmed by the weight of caring for their aging parents, balancing their careers, and taking care of their own families.

Rather than making you a more devoted caregiver, bearing too heavy a combination of burdens will, in the long run, only make you less capable of being there for your loved one. To help you to avoid burnout, here’s some food for thought on managing and alleviating caregiver stress.

What are the signs of caregiver stress?

Caregiving for an elderly adult always comes with a certain amount of worries. But if you’re feeling consistently worried or overwhelmed, disconnecting from other loved ones, or losing interest in things you used to enjoy, then these are important signs that your stress levels have become unmanageable. Stress can manifest in physical ways, too. It can be the root cause for problems like fatigue, headaches, stomach and digestive issues, weight changes, trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much.

Why it’s okay (and important) to talk about the negative

Admitting the challenges and the sometimes-difficult toll of caregiving is something that can feel shameful or disloyal. But when we focus only on the positives or expect caregivers to maintain constant positivity, we not only undermine their struggles, we do nothing to fix them.

It’s normal to feel awkward, uncertain, or even resentful about your caregiving role — especially when you’re sleep-deprived, stressed, or emotionally strained. When you set aside the need to put up a false front, you may find you remove a little bit of the pressure you’re feeling.

Helping to alleviate caregiver stress

Your overwhelmed feelings, and the physical ramifications that can come with them, are signs that you need to make adjustments to your caregiving arrangements. You may be able to improve things with some changes on your own, shifting your mindset and shuffling your commitments to bring more self-care into your life.

But if you think that you’ve hit a breaking point, consider joining a local support group of fellow caregivers, or find a good mental health professional to offer a listening ear and invaluable coping techniques. Of course, it may not only be your impossible schedule and your lack of sleep and personal time that is pushing you into an unhealthy place. Families are complex at all stages, and underlying grief at the changing dynamic or parental issues from your past may be adding to your strain.

If your caregiving situation means that your loved one can’t be on their own even for a short period, there are still steps you can take to improve things. Don’t forget that support groups and mental health professionals exist in the virtual space as well as in person. And you may find that some form of outside help — whether big or small — is the right solution for you and your loved one.

Considering home care? How Just Like Family can help

If and when you need us, our Just Like Family team members are here to provide professional respite, offering many different forms of support. We provide quality home care services including picking up medications and going to appointments, personal care, companionship, homemaking support, live-in care, and more — giving you consistent care updates to keep you involved and informed.

Our team at Just Like Family is always here for you, ready and qualified to help, however you need us. Please know you can reach out at any time.

Tags: respite