Did you know, about one-third of all adults in our country provide some sort of family support to a relative? That is a staggering number! A very high majority of these family caregivers are women. While most of those people take on this responsibility gladly because of the love and commitment they have for the patient, it is a rigorous job that can cause psychological and physical stress which can compromise their health.
What about caregiving creates so much stress? Let’s take a look at this systematically and identify some of the causes.
- Some of the stress can be caused by a lack of knowledge and training. The more comfortable you feel about caring for your loved one, the lower your stress levels will be. To get the knowledge you need to be the best caregiver you can be, ask for help from your The Elizabeth Hospice care team, we can provide useful resources, education and information. Or visit our Caregiver Resource section on our website at http://elizabethhospice.org/being-a-caregiver/caregiving-resources. There you’ll find lots of helpful information that can support you in your role as caregiver.
- Stress can cause the caregiver psychological and physical harm if they are trying to stretch themselves between work, family and the patient. There are only so many hours in the day, and you are just one person.
-Feelings of being overwhelmed can cause stress for caregivers if they are suffering economic or legal burdens because of their commitment. Don’t forget social workers at The Elizabeth Hospice can help align community resources and support.
- Grief is also a creator of stress. The premature grief experienced by caregivers during the last few weeks of their loved one’s life can sometimes cause depression and chronic fatigue.
Approaching caregiving as if it were a job can set you up for a more successful experience. That might mean getting the proper training in the beginning. As with any other job, being properly trained means you have the knowledge you need to be successful at that job. The job is easier to approach and you have less stress and anxiety if you are confident in your abilities. Caregiving is no different. Seek advice on proper training from your hospice care team or through online resources.
Recognize your own stress and get help. If you need help, seek individual counseling, group support, or spiritual counseling through a church or an Elizabeth Hospice Chaplain. Help is also available at our Center for Compassionate Care, www.cccforhope.org. Remember, you have to keep yourself healthy in order to support the one you love to the best of your ability.
The American Psychological Association has an online tool called the “Caregiver’s Briefcase.” The National Counsel on Aging gives excellent advice in their “Caregiver Guide.” You can get it online as well.
As a caregiver, you want to take pride in the work you are doing for that special person. Perhaps it’s a parent and you feel it is the right thing to give back to them for all they once gave to you. Being healthy, both physically and mentally, gives you what you need to do this important job to the best of your ability.