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Care of the caregiver


 

Taking care of you

Caregiving for another person can be satisfying, but it can also be an exhausting and thankless job. You may sacrifice your leisure time, your vacations and your privacy. Multiple demands from your family, your job and the person for whom you care, leave little time for yourself. Too often caregivers neglect their own health and well being, and put their own needs on the back burner. You may not be able to stop the impact of a disease or disability on the care receiver, but you must be responsible for your own self-care.

 

Caregiver depression, stress & fatigue

As a family caregiver, you may experience depression. You may believe that you cannot do enough for the person you care for. You may also be angry because your efforts go unappreciated and unrecognized. Perhaps, you don't get help and support from other family members. There are demands that are put on your time, not to mention your physical and mental health. Like many caregivers, you were thrust into this role without much preparation or planning. Not only are you dealing with the daily physical tasks, but also with the changes taking place in your relationship with the person for whom you care.

You may have believed that no matter what would happen to your loved one, you would have an abundance of love, strength and courage to care for her or him. But now as the caregiver, you are faced with the realities of the job, your stamina is dwindling and you are feeling resentful.

An estimated 61 percent of family members who provide 21 hours or more of care per week suffer from depression. You need to recognize the signs of caregiver fatigue and stress. If not addressed, it can negatively affect your own health, well-being and your ability to provide care. In extreme cases, it can lead to inadequate care or even verbal and physical abuse of the care receiver. Caregiver fatigue and stress can be managed so you can maintain or improve your physical and emotional well being.

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Caregiver's self-assessment

Read the following Caregiver's self-assessment and see if you may be at risk for caregiver's burnout. To locate respite services in your community that can provide you with a temporary break from your caregiving duties call 1-866-219-7218 or visit the Lifespan Respite Care Program Web site.

Please answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions related to your caregiving situation:

  • Do you ever find yourself trying to do it all and be responsible for all aspects of the caregiving?
  • Do you experience sleep disturbances, including inability to fall asleep or stay asleep?
  • Do you frequently experience aches and pains, including muscle aches, neck aches or headaches?
  • Do you say to yourself "I should be able to...," "I can never..." or other similar statements?
  • Do you get frustrated about something in particular you are unable to change?
  • Do you experience chronic health problems and experience low energy or exhaustion?
  • Do you resist asking for and receiving assistance from others?
  • Do you feel that your family has no idea what you must go through and they simply do not understand?
  • Do you experience emotional outbreaks, including anxiety, depression, anger, guilt or loneliness?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are more than likely experiencing caregiver stress, which can put you at risk for caregiver burnout. You can manage caregiver stress so that it does not make you ill or interfere with your caregiving and the rest of your life. Many caregiving situations fail or caregivers become ill because they have failed to sustain the activities, interests and friendships that they love. It is critical that you have a few hours a week away from caregiving. Remember, you cannot provide quality care unless you care for yourself.

 

Resources

Review our Caregiver resources for useful information about how to care for yourself as a caregiver.

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