Caregiver stress and eldercare go hand in hand together. Does caring too much contribute to an increase your level of stress? Caregivers often choose to provide the care for their aging loved one’s themselves. Providing day to day care can lead to minute to minute care at a moments notice. Because care giving is intermittent and unpredictable it can be very stressful.
Caring for another gives one a sense of well being and enhances one self esteem. Caring in most dictionaries is defined as a burdened state of mind, a state of worry, a state of concern. Caring for another is an emotional state, in which we tend to look after another.
So how does something that is meant to make caregivers feel better about themselves lead to a path of jeopardizing their own health and other relationships?
Caregivers are so busy caring and focused on their aging loved one, that they often ignore harmful and dangerous warning signs that contribute to what are commonly known as “caregiver stress”.
Studies show that more than fifty percent of all caregivers suffer depression, anxiety, sadness, anger, resentment and guilt.In other words, this is caregiver stress.
Caregiver stress and eldercare can result in making poor judgments, lack of creativity when trying to determine solutions and lack of energy leads to inaction.
So how does caring too much contribute to this cycle of caregiver stress? With eldercare and caregiver stress there is a lot of responsibility and emotional attachment. Many care givers have a tendency to have poor emotional habits. Caregivers have a tendency show concern, give their loved ones attention, and provide sympathy and support to the extent of being harmful to their own health. Care givers loose balance in their own lives; get overwhelmed with your aging loved one’s needs and situations to the detriment of their own health and harmony.
It is important to recognize the warning signs of caregiver stress and deal with it immediately:
- Sadness, moodiness, anger
- Social withdrawal from friends and social activities
- Feeling of fatigue, difficulty sleeping (too much or too little)
- Frequent headaches, colds and stomach feeling upset
- Feeling of hopelessness, dread and anxiety and depression
These emotional habits of concern, worry, anxiety and obsessive thinking are common in care givers. As the caregiver continues to have an unbalanced life, the results are anger and resentment and blaming others for things that are important to the caregiver.
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Here are a few examples of poor emotional habits
The daughter that feels she has to physically be with her parent’s everyday to show them that she cares for them, even though she lives across town.
The brother and sister that fight and argue constantly over which one knows what is best in the future care of their parents.
A daughter equates love and caring and attention by constantly worrying over her parent’s situation. The caregiver that feels she has to return every call from her aging loved one immediately, even at work; for fear that he/ she will be viewed as uncaring and unconcerned.
The results of these situations:
The daughter begins to feel resentful and angry towards her parents and other family members for their need for attention and time she gives. The daughter puts a wedge between her and her other family members. The daughters outside relationships suffer because of her need to see her parent’s everyday.
The family arguments lead to a stalemate, no decisions being made and the parents feel as if they have become a burden to the family.
The daughter’s aging parents feel concerned they are causing their daughter anguish and worry. They hide and avoid discussing important topics from her to protect her. This leads to the daughter managing her parents care in a crisis mode, as she is not made aware of situations when they experience declining health.
The caregiver becomes resentful, angry and frustrated that calls to them are trivial at times. This resentment leads to making bad judgments and taking a proactive approach to solve the real important challenges when they present themselves.
Caring too much does not cause stress. It is how we manage to care that is the issue. Worry, anxiety, anguish, sleeplessness does nothing to solve any problem. When we develop better emotional habits that is when our life will come into balance. Life is in balance when we deal with stress and are able to function at full capacity under pressure.
The first step to changing your emotional habits is to become aware of your feelings and acknowledge them.
Here are a few questions to help you evaluate:
- Are there areas of care that give you energy and joy and reduce your stress? Take time to write them down and why they have this affect on you.
- What areas of care giving causes you stress and drains your energy?
- Do you have a strong identity or a strong feeling towards a particular outcome in some situations?
- What are your common emotional habits that best describe your sense of caring? Is it your expectations, what you perceive are others expectations, sentiment, sympathy, attachment
Taking a personal inventory and evaluating your feelings honestly is the first step towards balance and improved health.
Learning and implementing stress reduction techniques can shift you from an emotionally drained and negative state back to a balanced positive emotional state. Stress reduction techniques will also give you a broader perspective on decision making.
A simple stress reduction technique to get your life back into balance:
- Identify your common emotional habits. When you begin to experience that emotion(anger, resentment, guilt, self judgment)
- Close your eyes and acknowledge that feeling
- Select a positive thought or feeling to replace what you are feeling
- Now breathe, concentrate on your heart beat, as you breathe in, think of the positive feeling
- Concentrate on slowly breathing until you feel the new positive feeling
There are many challenges to eldercare and care giving. There are also many more rewards that have a positive effect on the entire family. Taking care of yourself and managing how you care can make this challenge rewarding and improve the quality of life for everyone. The importance of coping with caregiver stress can not be over emphasized.
Managing stress caused by being a care giver takes patience and determination
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