Caregivers must remain aware of their own mental, emotional, and physical health.
Being a caregiver is a selfless job that can lead to overwhelming feelings and exhaustion.
While the tasks of a caregiver may vary, depending on their loved one’s condition, all caregivers are at risk of caregiver stress and burnout.
Setting boundaries, focusing on self-care, and recognizing the signs of caregiver stress can prevent long-term health conditions and promote balance and joy.
You may think you can care for your loved one alone, but eventually, their care needs will grow, and you will need help from others.
Learn more about the signs and causes of caregiver stress, how to prevent symptoms of caregiver burnout, and where to find caregiving services and a supportive assisted living and memory care community.
What is caregiver stress?
Whether you’re a professional caregiver or taking care of a loved one, you can experience caregiver stress when you put off taking care of yourself and your own responsibilities for an extended period.
You may begin feeling angry, frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed by doing everything alone, especially when taking care of family members.
Sometimes caregiver stress can be triggered by a loved one’s health condition worsening or them developing an additional health problem.
The more hours you spend caregiving without the proper attention to your own needs, the close you are to complete emotional and physical exhaustion.
It isn’t unusual for caregivers to feel like they’re losing their sense of self and experiencing isolation and loneliness.
If your senior loved one’s needs are becoming too much for you to keep up with, a senior living community could be the perfect solution. With around-the-clock high acuity care and comfort, those with even the highest care needs can receive the support and assistance they need.
Recognize the signs of caregiver stress
If you notice that you’re experiencing chronic stress—give yourself a break.
While initially, you may feel guilty, there is nothing wrong with putting your own health and care needs first. It’s even necessary in order to care for your loved one adequately.
You’ll be a happier and healthier caregiver when you take care of your emotional health and manage stress.
The signs of too much stress to watch out for include:
- Becoming easily angered or irritated
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness or depression
- Experiencing forgetfulness
- Having heart palpitations
- Feeling alone and isolated
- Experiencing frequent headaches and body pains
- Having trouble concentrating
Manage caregiver stress to prevent burnout
The more capable you are of setting boundaries, taking breaks to tend to your needs, and accepting help from others—the more likely you are to feel empowered.
While there are many ways to empower yourself and relieve stress, below is a list of five suggestions to help you get started and avoid caregiver burnout.
Do something for yourself every day
This doesn’t have to be something big, time-consuming, or expensive. Being nice to yourself can mean taking a long hot bath, reading a book, lighting a candle, or listening to music.
Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet
Neglecting your own body can create physical stress and health problems if you don’t pay attention.
Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day can reduce caregiver stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Consider going for a daily walk, yoga, cycling, swimming, or joining a gym.
Improve your mental clarity
Teaching your mind how to remain calm is a beneficial skill and can help caregivers feel empowered.
You can learn to control negative thoughts through meditation, coloring, journaling, and other activities that allow you to focus and calm your mind. It may even be beneficial to talk to a mental health professional to vent and gain guidance.
Since most caregivers tend to feel isolated and lonely, you must maintain an active social life. To hold yourself accountable, set up weekly coffee dates with a friend, or join a club or class. Just make sure that your life isn’t centered solely around caregiving.
Build a support system
Ask family members for help with some of your caregiving tasks to give you time to step away and take a break.
Counseling and support groups can also effectively combat caregiver stress and burnout and should become a part of your support system. If there aren’t any local support groups available, try an online support group to talk to people who understand.
Sometimes support can even mean transitioning your loved one to an assisted living or memory care community. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it and talking about a transition with your loved one allows them to be a part of the conversation.
The cause of caregiver burnout
Caregiver burnout generally comes after a long period of stress. You can reach this stage when you fail to recognize and acknowledge your symptoms of caregiver stress.
Taking care of your physical and mental health is vital if you get to the point of burnout. Caregiver burnout that is left untreated can lead to anxiety, depression, a compromised immune system, diabetes, and heart disease.
Unrealistic expectations and demands can also lead to caregiver burnout. This is highly likely to occur if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease.
While helping a family member on occasion may be reasonable, many caregivers spend an average of 24 hours a week assisting their loved one. Primary caregivers may even spend 40 hours a week taking care of someone, on top of working and other responsibilities.
If taking care of your loved one day-to-day is taking a toll on you, The Kensington Sierra Madre can help.
With high acuity care, nurses, two memory care neighborhoods, and rehabilitation services, your loved one will have a team to support them in maintaining and improving their overall health.
Caregiver services and resources in your community
When trying to find caregiving services near you, you may first want to ask family members and friends if they have any recommendations.
Word of mouth is an excellent way to find high-quality services, as you can hear real testimonials and experiences from people you know.
Your loved one’s physician or other healthcare workers may be another way to find services and support groups since they see a lot of patients and are familiar with other healthcare professionals nearby.
The internet is another way to search for caregiving services in your community. When you find them, read reviews and ratings, to ensure your loved one will receive proper care.
A compassionate assisted living or memory care community may be the best option if your loved one has high care needs.
Kensington Sierra Madre supports residents and caregivers
The Kensington Sierra Madre is an assisted living and memory care community that has made it Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.
While being a caregiver can be fulfilling, there will come a time when it may become overwhelming.
If your loved one’s care needs have grown, and caring for them is beginning to take a toll on your emotional, mental, and physical health—we can help.
We can offer services and support to seniors with even the highest and most demanding care needs.
When your loved one becomes a part of our community, we offer:
- 24/7 care
- On-site nurses and a physician
- Medication administration and injections
- Rehabilitation services
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Daily life-enrichment activities
- Delicious and nutritious meals, with exceptional dining services
- Two memory care communities
- Alzheimer’s care
- Dementia care