A recent study showed that nearly one in five caregivers in the United States provides more than 40 hours of care to a loved one every week. That is startling when you realize that many of those caregivers, the so-called Sandwich Generation, are also caring for families of their own as well as pursuing full time careers. It’s no wonder that so many adults are being faced with fatigue and chronic illnesses as stress takes its toll on your body both mentally and physically.
If you’re in the position of being a caregiver, whether you are raising your own family or not, there are some signs you need to be aware of when it comes to your own health and your stress levels. If you find yourself faced with a stressful caregiving be on the lookout for these signs that you need to step away:
- You find yourself being unreasonably irritated or annoyed with everyday items, traffic, having to repeat yourself to an aging parent. If you find that you’re forgetful or are even losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, those could be an indicator of depression. You should talk with a doctor if you see any of these red flags. Keep in mind that simply being a caregiver doesn’t lead to depression, but the activities and the time involved can leave you open to that risk.
- Reach out for help. Whether you ask a family member or friend or church community member for help with your parents, you are not admitting defeat nor are you shirking your responsibilities. Asking for help is your way of relieving the burden of caregiving and allowing yourself the opportunity to step away and catch your breath. In fact, asking for and accepting help is a sign of knowing yourself and your limits. If you don’t want to leave the care of your loved ones in the hands of friends or family, ask them to run errands or help with household tasks or even meal preparation to give yourself some breathing room.
- Take a look at what stress you and find ways to change those items. If, for example, leaving your parents alone at night while you go home to your family is a stressor, consider equipping the home with a medical alert device. These devices provide peace of mind to the individual wearing the medical alert pendant and to the caregiver because you can go home at night knowing that if there is an emergency, your loved ones will be able to reach out for help at the push of a button.
Remember that if you don’t care for yourself and if you don’t take time away from the duties of being a caregiver, your health will suffer and that could lead to even higher levels of stress if you’re unable to fulfill the caregiving promises you’ve made to your family.
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