When a senior needs care, it is often a family member or family friend who steps up to provide it. Though admirable and rewarding, taking on the role of a family caregiver can also be incredibly draining. In some cases, caregivers–especially those balancing work and other family responsibilities–may develop Caregiver Stress Syndrome. As leaders in senior memory care, Poet’s Walk is dedicated to identifying cases of caregiver stress syndrome and providing assistance, when necessary.
What Is Caregiver Depression?
Caregiver stress syndrome, also referred to as caregiver burnout, depression, or fatigue, occurs when a caregiver experiences physical, emotional, and mental fatigue or exhaustion. In some cases, a caregiver’s attitude will shift from caring and upbeat to apathetic and hopeless. Still, they often strive to provide ongoing care to their loved one, disregarding their own health and wellness.
What Causes Caregiver Stress?
Caregiver Stress Syndrome occurs when caregivers neglect themselves. They often try to take on more responsibility than they are capable of providing and either don’t get the help they need or don’t know where to get it. Many times, they will also have feelings of guilt if they take time for themselves. Other factors include:
- Setting unrealistic expectations. A caregiver may expect to see their loved one become healthier and happier and grow frustrated when there aren’t clear signs of improvement.
- Making unreasonable demands. It is easy to overburden oneself, especially if the caregiver thinks they have the sole responsibility for their loved one.
- Have a lack of resources. Feeling like there’s not enough money, skill, or other resources that could really help in the loved one’s care can make a caregiver feel frustrated and overwhelmed.
- Role confusion. It can be difficult to know when to act as a caregiver or to take on the normal role of spouse, family member, or friend.
- Not realizing they are burning out. Caregivers may be focusing so much on their loved one that they don’t notice that they are burning out or getting sick — even if it is very visible to others.
Caregiver Stress Symptoms
Throughout our years of providing daily senior care, we’ve gained an understanding of the common symptoms family caregivers display when feeling burnt out. Make note of the following signs of caregiver stress syndrome:
- Fatigue or exhaustion: emotionally, mentally, and physically
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs: sleep medications, for example, become a common concern
- Getting physically sick more frequently
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression – changes in appetite/weight/sleep patterns, sad feelings or feeling irritable and helpless, withdrawing from people or activities that used to make you happy, thoughts or fears of harming your loved one or yourself
Self-Care Tips for Caregivers of the Elderly
You are important and it is vital that you take care of yourself. Your loved one would have never wished for you to feel this way. Burning out may also have repercussions on the care you are able to provide to your loved one. Here are a few ways you can take better care of yourself.
- Maintain health – eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, and get enough exercise and sleep
- Thinking realistically– about your loved one’s condition or illness, especially if they have Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or another progressive disease.
- Acceptance – Know your limits. Get help when you need it. Watch yourself for symptoms of caregiver stress syndrome.
- Reach out – talk to someone about your feelings and frustrations. Many professionals are trained to deal with these issues, or, you can rely on a trusted friend.
- Look after yourself– set aside some “me time” every day. Work on being positive and know that it is normal for caregivers to feel frustration and stress.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout with Poet’s Walk
Sometimes the hardest thing is accepting that it may be time to ask for help, but being able to do so actually makes you a responsible caregiver. If your loved one needs daily care, a caregiver who is a family member or friend may not be able to fully provide it. At Poet’s Walk assisted living memory care facilities, the trained and capable caregivers in our assisted living facility will offer your loved one the very best senior care.
Contact us today to find out more about what Poet’s Walk can offer you and your loved one.