The care of elderly parents or any other older care recipient is one of the most stressful things that a person can do.
It can be difficult to balance work, life, and family responsibilities while also trying to care for aging parents.
Oftentimes caregiving responsibilities fall onto the shoulders of adult children or relatives which may result in an overwhelming amount of work.
Many caregivers find themselves in this family caregiving situation and feel immense amounts of guilt, anger, and sadness.
…caregiving is an amorphous experience, which the 2020 Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers report (RCI) identifies as “not defined by specific tasks or the amount of time spent.” This makes it difficult for people to understand what’s involved and how to navigate the emotional and physical labor involved.nextavenue.org
Did you know that 34% of caregivers are over the age of 65? It’s essentially older adults caring for their older adults!
And over 75% of caregivers are female. It’s no secret that the primary caregiver of an older parent is often a daughter.
But let’s not forget caregivers who are between the ages of 18 and 49 years of age. This makes up 48% of caregivers. This is the sandwich generation.
Many are caring for their own children while at the same time caring for elderly parents.
You are certainly not alone and in this article we are going to explore some of the best ways to deal with caregiver stress. Here’s a hint! The best way is to get some respite care, either from family, friends, your church, local organizations, etc.
But we’ll get into that and more later on in this article.
What is Caregiver Stress?
Caregiver stress is the physical and emotional strain that comes from caring for an elderly or disabled loved one.
It can take a toll on your health, your work, and your personal life. Important things like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep can fall by the wayside.
Caregiver stress is different from stress caused by other life events such as job loss or divorce.
It’s chronic, meaning it lasts for a long time and there’s no end in sight. And it’s complex, because it involves so many different aspects of your life.
Let’s face it, you’ve been put into some very difficult situations in your role as a caregiver. Don’t deny it, don’t ignore it and do reach out for help.
Caregivers often have a lot on their plate. In addition to providing care for their loved ones, they also need to manage doctor’s appointments, medications, and other logistics.
It’s no wonder that caregiver stress is so common.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to caregiver stress. These include:
- feeling isolated and alone
- feeling like you’re not doing enough
- financial strain
- lack of sleep
- physical exhaustion
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many people are caring for elderly parents or sick loved ones.
And there are a number of resources available to help you cope with caregiver stress.
If you’re a caregiver, you may feel like you’re always on duty. You may have less time for your own needs and interests. And you may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or even resentful.
This can be especially true if your senior loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Caring for someone with these conditions or any other severe health problem only adds to the usual duties that a caregiver must perform.
It is okay to acknowledge when you are feeling emotionally drained or exhausted without the guilt of feeling that way. You are a human being with human emotions and physical needs too.carelink.org
Caregiver stress is different from burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may lead you to feel like you can’t go on.
Caregiver stress is a reaction to the demands of caregiving. It’s not as serious as burnout, but it can still take a toll on your own health and well-being.
What Causes Caregiver Stress?
There are many things that can contribute to caregiver stress. Here are some of the most common:
- Lack of support. If you don’t have help from family, friends, or other caregivers, you may feel like you’re doing it all alone.
- Financial strain. Caring for someone can be expensive. If you’re not getting paid for your caregiving duties, it can add to your stress.
- Emotional strain. Caring for a loved one can be emotionally demanding. You may feel guilty, angry, or sad. You may also worry about the future.
- Physical strain. Caregiving can be physically demanding. If you’re helping someone who is disabled or ill, you may have to lift them or do other tasks that are physically taxing.
- Time pressures. If you’re juggling work, caregiving, and other responsibilities, you may feel like you don’t have enough time for yourself.
The sheer amount of time that is spent on caregiving for an older adult can consume someone’s life.
It’s no wonder that stress is a very normal part of the caregiving journey.
On average, a family caregiver will spend over 24 hours each week providing care to a loved one, although many report spending over 40 hours per week on caregiving duties.asccare.com
If you’re feeling stressed, there are things you can do to help manage your stress. Here are some tips:
- Ask for help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask friends and family for help with caregiving duties, errands, and chores.
- Talk to others. A close friend can be a great support for you emotionally as you battle the ups and downs that the days and nights will bring.
- Take breaks. Get a massage, take a yoga class, or just take some time for yourself every day.
- Set limits. Say no to non-essential tasks and obligations. Boundaries are very important during this time.
- Hire help for household chores. This will give you more time for yourself and your loved one.
- Be realistic. Set realistic goals for yourself and your loved one. Understand that there are things you can’t control.
- Seek support. Join a caregiver support group or talk to a counselor who can help you manage your stress.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy balanced diet, exercise, and get enough sleep. There’s no better way to care for your loved one than to care for yourself first.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find ways to manage your stress and may also recommend medication or therapy if needed.
What are Three Signs of Caregiver Stress?
Many caregivers experience stress due to the demands of caregiving.
However, not all caregivers are aware of the signs of caregiver stress. This can lead to caregivers feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
There are three main signs of caregiver stress: physical, emotional, and behavioral.
1. Feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. Depression is very common amongst caregivers.
2. Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches or gastrointestinal problems. This may be due to increased anxiety as well as poor health habits due to the toll of caregiving.
3. Developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol excessively or using drugs. This can lead to anger, insomnia, health problems, relationship problems, etc.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is important to seek help from a professional. Caregiver stress can lead to serious health problems if it is not addressed.
If you are a caregiver, there are resources available to help you cope with the stress of caregiving. There are multiple organizations that can offer some help.
- National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA)
- Caregiver Action Network
- The National Alliance For Caregiving
- National Family Caregivers Association
- Family Caregiver Alliance
You may also find some local organizations within your own city, state or county.
How do You Know if You Have Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially.clevelandclinic.org
If you are a caregiver, it is important to be aware of the signs of caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout can happen to anyone, even the most well-intentioned and dedicated caregivers.
If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or resentful, it may be time to take a step back and assess your situation.
There are many different signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout. Some common ones include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly stressed
- Sleeping less or having trouble sleeping
- Eating poorly or skipping meals
- Becoming withdrawn or isolated from friends and family
- Feeling angry, resentful, or hopeless
- Losing interest in activities that used to bring you joy
- Feeling like you can’t do anything right
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to your doctor, a trusted friend or family member, or a counselor.
There are also many support groups available for caregivers.
Don’t try to go it alone. Reach out for help when you need it.
Why is Caring for Elderly Parents So Hard?
It’s no secret that caring for elderly parents can be difficult. But why is it so hard?
There are a number of factors that can make this challenging, including emotional stress, financial burden, and physical demands.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors to better understand why caring for elderly parents can be such a difficult task.
One of the main reasons why caring for elderly parents is so hard is because it can be emotionally stressful.
Dealing with the decline of a parent’s health can be difficult to handle, and watching them suffer can take an emotional toll.
Providing personal care such as bathing and toileting can also be emotionally demanding, as it can be difficult to see a parent in a vulnerable state.
Having to manage medications and medical appointments can also be stressful, as there is often a lot of uncertainty involved.
In addition, caring for an elderly parent can also be a reminder of our own mortality, which can be a scary and depressing thought.
But one of the most emotional caregiving is associated with caring for an elderly loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
I believe this is true simply because they are dying in front of you inch by inch, and that can be extremely difficult to deal with for many reasons.
The responsibility of caring for senior citizens with dementia is a demanding responsibility that often requires round the clock surveillance. It gradually wears down the patience and goodwill of relatives and caregivers; who may then become resentful, irritable and may eventually tip over into elder abuse. It takes an emotional toll on the caregivers, as they may have to make sacrifices in other aspects of their life – such as work, family and social interactions. There is also the financial responsibility involved to perform tests, take to hospital, employ a housekeeper or nurse, or pay to keep in a nursing home etc.tribuneonlineeng.com
It Can Be A Financial Burden
Another reason why caring for elderly parents is so difficult is because it can be a financial burden.
The costs of medical care, assisted living, and other forms of care can add up quickly, and many families are not prepared to handle these expenses.
I have a friend who is dealing with this very problem.
Her elderly parents are in their 90’s and have no savings at all. My friend and her siblings are footing the bills for their parents as well as taking care of their own children and spouses.
It’s Physically Exhausting
Finally, caring for elderly parents can be difficult because it can deplete you physically.
Many caregivers find themselves taking on additional responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, and driving their parents to appointments.
This can leave little time for self-care or for pursuing other interests.
If you are struggling to care for your elderly parents, it is important to reach out for help.
There are many resources available to caregivers, and there is no shame in asking for assistance.
Is it Normal to Resent Caring for Elderly Parents?
It’s perfectly normal to feel resentful when caring for elderly parents.
It’s a difficult and demanding task, both emotionally and physically.
It can be hard to see your parents age and become increasingly dependent on you.
It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and that you’re not alone in feeling them.
There are many resources and support groups available to help you through this challenging time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or resentful, reach out for help.
Talk to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. They can offer support and guidance as you navigate this difficult time.
Can You Get PTSD From Caregiving?
Many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with soldiers who have experienced combat.
However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has gone through a traumatic event – including caregivers.
Caregivers are often exposed to difficult and sometimes traumatic situations, such as witnessing a loved one in pain, dealing with aggressive behavior, or coping with the death of their loved one.
While most caregivers do not develop PTSD, some may be at risk for developing the condition.
There are a number of factors that can increase a caregiver’s risk for PTSD, such as:
- History of trauma: Caregivers who have experienced previous traumas, such as combat or sexual assault, are at greater risk for developing PTSD.
- Severity of the trauma: Caregivers who witness severe trauma, such as a loved one being critically injured or killed, are more likely to develop PTSD than those who witness less severe events.
- Lack of support: Caregivers who do not have a strong support system are more likely to develop PTSD.
In most cases, the best way to treat PTSD is with therapy. Depending on the caregivers situation, that might mean private, group or family therapy sessions. Some other helpful remedies include meditation, physical therapy (massages), and EMDR (or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Some doctors may also recommend alternative treatments like acupuncturists, chiropractors, and Reiki masters.conciergecareadvisors.com
If you are a caregiver and are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
Treatment for PTSD can be very effective and can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What is Caregiver Stress Syndrome?
Caregiver stress syndrome is a condition that can develop in individuals who are providing care for loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
It is characterized by physical and emotional symptoms that can lead to burnout.
If left unchecked, caregiver stress syndrome can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of both the caregiver and the individual being cared for.
There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of caregiver stress syndrome.
These include insufficient support from family and friends, financial strains, and the demands of caring for a loved one with a chronic or debilitating condition.
Caregivers may also experience feelings of guilt, anger, and resentment.
The physical symptoms of caregiver stress syndrome can include fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems.
The emotional symptoms can include anxiety, depression, and irritability.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.
Untreated caregiver stress syndrome can lead to serious consequences for both the caregiver and the person they are caring for.
If you are struggling to cope with the demands of caregiving, please seek help from a mental health professional. You don’t have to do this alone.
What are some of the physical health problems that can be caused by caregiver stress?
One of the most common physical health problems associated with caregiver stress is fatigue.
When you are constantly under stress, your body can become so exhausted that you may feel like you can’t go on.
This can lead to problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making.
Caregiver stress can also take a toll on your physical health in other ways.
It can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. It can also cause headaches, muscle tension, and stomach problems.
What are some of the emotional health problems that can be caused by caregiver stress?
Emotional support is extremely important during this time, more than you may imagine.
As a caregiver, you might find yourself feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, or even isolated.
It’s vital to take care of your emotional health so that you can continue providing quality care for the older people you are caring for.
Caregiver stress can cause a variety of emotional health problems.
You may feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or even depressed. You may also have difficulty sleeping, which can make it hard to cope with the demands of caregiving.
What are some of the relationship problems that can be caused by caregiver stress?
The stress of caregiving can also take a toll on your relationships.
You may have less time for your partner or other family members. You may also find it hard to be as patient or understanding as you used to be.
The demands of caregiving can put a strain on even the strongest relationships.
What are some of the financial difficulties that can be caused by caregiver stress?
Caregiving can also be costly. You may have to miss work or quit your job altogether to care for your loved one.
This can lead to financial difficulties, such as losing your income or benefits. The cost of caregiving can also add up over time, leaving you with mounting bills and debt.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by caregiver stress, there are things you can do to help yourself.
- First, try to find some support from others who understand what you’re going through.
- There are also many helpful resources available to caregivers, such as books, websites, and support groups.
- Finally, be sure to take care of yourself emotionally and physically. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just need a break, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Caregiver stress is a very real and serious issue.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to caregivers, and there is no shame in asking for support. Remember, you are not alone.
How Do You Deal With the Stress of Taking Care of an Elderly Parent?
It’s no secret that caring for an elderly parent can be stressful. There are a lot of demands placed on you, both emotionally and practically.
It can be tough to juggle everything and still take care of yourself.
If you’re feeling stressed, it’s important to find ways to cope. Here are some tips on how to deal with the stress of taking care of an elderly parent.
1. Take breaks when you can. It’s important to take some time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. Step outside for some fresh air, take a hot bath or read your favorite book.
Taking breaks will help you recharge and be better able to deal with the demands of caregiving.
2. Connect with other caregivers. It can be helpful to talk to others who are in similar situations. Share tips, vent frustrations, and offer support to one another.
There are often caregiver support groups available through community organizations or online.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to need some assistance, whether it’s from family, friends, or professional caregivers.
Delegate tasks when possible and accept offers of help graciously.
4. Look for a local area agency in your town or county. These agencies can connect you with services and resources that can help make caregiving easier.
5. Make time for yourself. In addition to taking breaks throughout the day, make sure to schedule some time for activities that you enjoy outside of caregiving.
This can help you relax and recharge, making you a better caregiver in the long run.
6. Establish boundaries. Many caregivers have a hard time saying “no” to requests, but it’s important to set boundaries in order to avoid burnout.
Be clear about what you can and cannot do, both with your loved one and with others who may be asking for your help.
7. Look into other care options. Perhaps your church has an adult daycare program, or maybe the local community center offers one. Check into hiring a private aide once or twice a week. Look at resources such as Care.com for possible help.
8. Seek professional help if needed. If you’re finding it difficult to cope with stress, don’t hesitate to seek out counseling or therapy.
A mental health professional can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and work through any underlying issues.
9. Look for an online support group. If you can’t make it to weekly meetings or therapy sessions, an online support group can be a helpful way to connect with other caregivers and find social support.
10. Take down your expectations. In other words, stop expecting your parents to be like they once were.
Stop expecting what you are supposed to be and do everything for your elderly parents. Be realistic, be smart, and be good to yourself.
There’s a wonderful article about Lisa Marshall who lost her husband, Peter, to early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 56. The article writes…
She knows caregivers often feel they should spend every minute of the time they have left with their loved one, “but you can’t. You must have time away so that you continue to be patient and loving and gentle and caring because otherwise you get to the end of your rope and you snap,” she said.Today.com
Taking care of an elderly parent can be a rewarding experience, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. by making time for self-care and seeking professional help when needed, you can ensure that both you and your loved one are happy and healthy.
Some Helpful Books
I personally find that reading helps me not only to calm down but to get a different perspective on whatever is troubling me. I call these books “counselor on the shelf”. I hope they help you too.
It’s important to remember that caregivers are human beings, with their own lives and their own needs. They can’t be available 24/7, and they need time for themselves, just like everyone else. caregiver stress can also be caused by a lack of support from family and friends.
The stress of caring for elderly parents or other loved ones can overtake you. Don’t let it. Instead, set boundaries, and involve as many people as you can in caring of your loved ones. And seek as much help as possible.
There are plenty of resources available, and there’s no shame in admitting that you need some assistance. Remember, you’re not in this alone.