By: Linda Burhans
Caregiving can be a rewarding and positive experience but it also can be extremely demanding and stressful. If you’ve been taking care of a chronically ill spouse or elderly parent, you may be feeling the effects of caregiver stress. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed YOU ARE NOT ALONE! . This type of care can place a great deal of pressure on a person, and caregivers are often surprised by the amount of stress they feel.
Here are some more tips for reducing stress:
• Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Contact the Area on Aging.
• Ask for and accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let them choose what they would like to do. For instance, one person might be happy to take the person you care for on a walk a couple times a week. Someone else might be glad to mow your lawn or pick up some groceries for you.
• If you need financial help taking care of a relative, don’t be afraid to ask family members to contribute their fair share. They may not be able to help with the daily responsibilities and would be glad to help financially.
• Do not feel guilty that you are not a “perfect” caregiver. Just as there is no “perfect parent,” there is no such thing as a “perfect caregiver.”
• Identify what you can and cannot change. You may not be able to change the circumstances or someone else's behavior, but you can change the way that you react to it.
• Set realistic goals. Start with smaller tasks that you can do one at a time.
• Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine for you and your loved one.
• Stay in touch with family and friends. If you are unable to visit in person, send an email or connect on Skype.
• Join a support group for caregivers in your situation, such as caring for someone with dementia. Besides being a great way to make new friends, you can also pick up some caregiving tips from others who are facing the same problems you are. You can find support groups that I facilitate at www.harmonyhh.com.
• Make time each week to do something that you want to do, such as going for a walk or having lunch with a friend.
• Take care of your own health, drink enough water, eat quality foods and allow time for rest and exercise.
• Seek medical attention for your own health concerns. Be sure to tell your doctor that you are a caregiver and let her about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
• Try to keep your sense of humor.
And may I remind you, you are doing a GREAT job! Acknowledge yourself for all you do!