Anyone can tell you that growing older and not being able to care for one’s self is a stressful situation. The loss of independence can lead to depression or worse. Stress is typically identified as something that causes mental or physical imbalance and can include: hunger, pain, or physical ailments like high blood pressure. While the stress may happen to an older loved one, it is important not to forget that their caregivers may also fall victim to this strain on their lives.
Over short periods of time, this stress can have some dramatic changes in the caregiver’s life, but it is the long-term stress that one really has to watch. Long-term stress can cause physical or mental illness to the caregiver and it is important to be alert to the signs of this stress.
What To Look For
If you believe that a caregiver is suffering from long-term stress, there can be some signs that you can look for to stop the stress before it becomes a bigger issue. These can be, but are not limited to:
Skin Disorders like hives, acne, or eczema
Lower immunity to colds and flu
Fluctuation of emotions
As time goes on, this stress can lead to a whole list of more serious problems that can have life-altering effects, such as diabetes, ulcers, migraines, and heart disease.
What Can Be Done?
The single, most important thing you can do to relieve someone from this stress is to have them relax. Some caregivers cannot cope with the strain of a loved one who slowly loses their independence and can blame themselves or even the person they are taking care of! Having a person relax is easier said than done, however. Here are a few things you can do to relax:
Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Try to get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. During the day, find a moment to close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Both of these methods will help to relax you.
Don’t skip meals or binge eat. It is important to keeping healthy and avoiding depression. More fruits and vegetables and less alcohol and caffeine will also help. You hear of people drinking alcohol to relax, but it actually has an opposite effect on your stress levels.
By doing some simple stretching exercises, as a caregiver, you can help to burn some calories and release some stress. This doesn’t mean you have to run on a treadmill for an hour each day – just stretch your body a little during the course of the day.
Hopefully this will help you to recognize and relieve some of the stress that is associated with being a caregiver. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our offices at: Kabb Law (216) 991-KABB (5222).