Caregivers often feel a great sense of satisfaction in doing an incredibly important job such as caring for a loved one by helping them maintain dignity and independence. However caregivers often feel as though they are unrecognised and unappreciated by the state and their families. Research has found that 41% of caregivers are under stress which identifies it is the most specific problem they have. The other main issues are back problems which represent 26%, depression 18% and anxiety 23%. In some cases caregivers become so concerned about their loved ones they forget about their own wellbeing and health needs.
Caregiving can also become stressful if the caregiver has a number of other responsibilities such as having a job and having children to care for. For a spouse, caregiving can be particularly stressful especially when the individual requires round the clock supervision.
A caregiver that takes care of him or herself will as a result be a better caregiver to a loved one.
Signs of caregivers stress
- Insomnia, disturbed sleep
- Digestive/stomach problems
- Changes in weight
- Hair loss
- High blood pressure
- Shoulder, back or neck pain
If you feel as though you are suffering from one of the signs above you should consider talking to a health care professional in order to help your situation.
Taking care of yourself:
It is essential that you have someone to talk to about your emotions and your situation. You need someone that will not judge you when you express your feelings. As a caregiver and seeing a loved one decline is really difficult. There is a wide range of emotions caregivers experience during their caring.
Some of these emotions may be:
- Confusing, conflicting and ambivalent. You may feel sadness, love, frustration, guilt, despair, grief, despair or fear.
- You may feel angry at the high level of dependency of your loved one and the many levels of demands on your time, money and energy. You could also be grieving for the loss of your loved one as the illness progresses.
All these feelings are common and none are “good” or “bad” nor do they replicate the level of your caregiving.
What is very important is learning to express your feelings and learning to deal with your emotions. Coping with these feelings in a positive way is essential to your emotional and physical wellness. Stress is reduced when people can admit their feelings and learn how to accept them. By denying or repressing feelings can lead to physical problems, depression or irritability. Therefore Care About You would encourage people to talk about their feelings as it is a very important part of being a carer. Talk to a close friend, family member or even a sympathetic GP.