Watch for Signs of Caregiver Stress
Taking care of an elderly spouse or other relative is a stressful experience. Many caregivers suffer in silence, afraid to reach out for help as they put their own needs behind those of their loved one.
Unfortunately, as doctors have been warning for years, being a caregiver is an exhausting experience. Many people will suffer serious medical effects, which can radically diminish their quality of life. In fact, one study showed that caregivers who experience stress show a 63% higher mortality rate.
To be an effective caregiver, you need to take care of yourself first. Below we summarize some of the signs you might be overwhelmed with stress.
One clear sign of stress is escalating stress levels. You might suddenly start yelling at your loved one or become angry at the smallest things. These are clearly signs that you are under tremendous distress. Chances are, you might also be suffering from other mental health problems, such as anxiety and/or depression.
To reduce anger, you need to find assistance to take care of your loved one. Reach out to other family members. If they cannot help (which might make you even angrier), you should see what social services are available for your loved one. For example, you might even be able to get respite care, which can provide at least a temporary break so that you can recharge.
Changes in Eating Habits
Another sign of stress is either weight gain or weight loss caused by changes in how you eat. You might also be eating at different times of the day, which can also have a negative effect on your health.
You can try to ameliorate these effects by speaking to your doctor, who might recommend a change in diet. If you can’t change when you eat, it might be healthier to eat different foods which you might digest easier.
You might also need to strive harder to keep yourself on a routine. Doing so can ensure you eat at a time of the day that works for you.
Overwhelmed with worry, many caregivers are unable to sleep as soundly as they used to. For example, you might suffer from insomnia, which can lead to exhaustion during the day. You might also wake up in the middle of the night because of nightmares or panic attacks.
Interrupted sleep is one of the major contributors to poor health. You should meet with your doctor for help treating insomnia.
Also check whether you can take medical leave from your employer. You might be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave which could help you get a handle on your exhaustion.
Experienced Elder Law Attorneys at The Villages
The Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group has been practicing elder law for decades. Our Florida attorneys offer caring legal help to stressed caregivers and their family members. We can help you set up an estate plan.
For more information about our services, please contact us to schedule a free consultation, 800-743-9732.