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Finding Ways To Deal With Caregiver Stress

By Kelly Wood

Caregiver stress is becoming a major issue in our modern world. With people living longer, there is an even greater need for people to care for those who cannot take care of themselves. Those caregivers are in danger of having their own mental, physical, and emotional issues.

A caregiver is one who gives help to a person that is unable on their own to take care of regular daily tasks. The majority are not paid, and they are often related to the person to whom they give care. A conservative estimate is that at least forty-five million people have this role today. That number will only increase in the years ahead. The most common occurrence is of a person taking care of an aged relative. However, there are many instances of parents taking care of their disabled child.

It is believed that at some point in almost all of our lives, we will face this responsibility. At the present time, a large majority are women. Many of these have an outside job as well as their job as caregiver. Those who have an outside job must often make adjustments to their work schedules to accommodate the needs of their loved one. Some have to resort to taking unpaid leave to help alleviate some of their stress.

This responsibility is the cause of a much strain for the caregivers. Feelings of anger, frustration, and guilt are quite common. Their social life is often impacted in a negative way. Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed are also quite common.

One negative outcome is that those who take care of others for an extended period of time are likely to eventually suffer serious medical issues of their own. They are much more likely to suffer problems like depression and heart disease. When they do become ill, they seem to take longer to recuperate.

There are some solutions to this stress factor. If needed, talk to a counselor or a psychologist. Also talk to your own medical doctor. Some places offer training classes on how to be an effective caregiver for particular things like dementia. Be willing to take help when it is offered by others. Do not feel like you have to do everything. Set priorities of things that must be done, and do not worry about all the little things. If possible, talk to other family members to see if they can give you some help. Also, take some time for just yourself. Do not break off all your social ties. You need outside stimulation to help keep yourself healthy.

Even though the stress can be high for this responsibility, you can also reap many positive rewards. Many feel like they are giving back and that they are truly needed. Some even report gaining a better and stronger relationship for the loved one.

Unfortunately, caregiver stress is a reality for many people today. However, there are many organizations that have resources available to help you. Talk to someone at your local Area Agency on Aging. Consider options like respite or adult day care to help you manage your time better.

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