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Caregiver Stress

Posted by Deb Spinelli on 7/22/2013
Thousands of men and women care for their elderly parents and relatives. Unfortunately, many of us forget that caregivers themselves need our assistance and support. Caregiver stress is becoming more common in our society: those who are bound to carry the burden of care on their shoulders often face critical physical and emotional problems.

It should be noted that a caregiver is anyone providing assistance to any other person in need. Elderly people face many chronic health conditions, including dementia, immobility, diabetes, and incontinence. As a result, those who care for seniors must fulfill a broad range of responsibilities, from cleaning and grocery shopping to paying bills, dressing, and using the toilet. Many of these functions and obligations may be extremely unpleasant or even intolerable. However, as long as caregiving is inevitable for many people, providing care to seniors may catapult caregivers into a deep well of stress and emotional tension.

It is not surprising that caregiver stress is becoming a popular topic of medical research. Today, we are moving to the point where caregiver stress may become a widely recognized disease. Caregiver stress is simply defined as the physical and emotional stress of providing care. There are several important physical, emotional, and behavioral warning signs.

Physically, stressed caregivers show stooped posture, experience neck pain and tension headaches. They have sweaty palms and complain of chronic back pain. They may gain or lose weight as well as have sleep disturbances. In addition, there are the emotional warning signs of caregiver stress, which include difficulty concentrating, anger, frequent mood changes, sadness, crying, and unproductive anxiety. Finally, caregiver stress manifests through behavioral signs such as impulsive decisions, overreacting, relationship withdrawal without any due reason, and even alcohol and drug abuse.

Caregiver stress is a serious condition and its effects on physical and emotional health can be far-reaching. Caregivers who are in stress are more likely to experience anxieties and depression as well as more likely to have a chronic or long-term health problem, such as diabetes or cancer. Stressed caregivers take more days sick and experience slower wound healing. Finally, they can well experience memory loss and cognitive processing problems.

Caregivers should be cognizant of these of these symptoms and signs of stress and seek assistance when necessary. Negative effects of stress on one’s health can be overwhelming and the proactive one is in finding solutions to this problem, the more likely he/she is to overcome them without major emotional and physical health losses. Many hospitals provide special education and classes for caregivers who work with seniors. Community resources for caregivers and their senior subjects are many. Seek help when necessary.

Posted in: Elderly Care