Caring for Caregivers: Managing Caregiver Stress

relaxing scene

Plus Five Tips for Finding Stress Relief as a Caregiver

relaxing sceneCaring for a senior loved one is one of the biggest commitments many families will make. Whether family caregivers are living with a senior loved one or ensuring that needs are met in a senior’s home, the responsibilities of caregiving can be both rewarding and stressful.

Even the most dedicated caregivers feel stressed sometimes. That can affect your ability to look after the people you love and yourself. Read on to learn more about caregiver stress and how to recognize it, why it is so important for caregivers to look after themselves, and practical tips for finding support.

What is Caregiver Stress?

Stress is a natural response to help us manage unfamiliar or challenging situations. The “fight-or-flight” response (the body’s physical response to stress) causes physical changes like increased heart rate and heightened senses, which allow us to stay alert, get more done, and move more quickly.

In small amounts, this response is helpful and keeps us safe. But, when the stress response isn’t balanced by rest – which is often the case for busy caregivers – that stress can cause wear and tear on the body. Just like your house may get messy when you’re very busy, your body doesn’t have an opportunity to do its regular maintenance when constantly stressed. Good digestion, immunity, and healing processes can become compromised. Over time, this can lead to more serious health concerns.

Caregivers Need Care, Too

Caregiving can be rewarding, but it is not easy. Family caregivers frequently experience more physical and emotional difficulties than their peers, and that makes caring for another person more challenging. In fact, a CDC study showed that more than half (53%) of caregivers reported that a decline in their health got in their way of caregiving.

For caregivers, looking after themselves by getting rest, eating well, and having sources of support is of utmost importance.

Recognizing Signs of Caregiver Stress

If you’re caring for a senior loved one, you have almost certainly felt caregiver stress at some point. It might appear as a sense of overwhelm, or difficulty winding down after a day of helping your loved one. These feelings are normal and often pass.

But, sometimes feeling stressed becomes so normal that it is difficult to recognize. If you notice many of the following signs of chronic stress in yourself or in a caregiver you support, it may be time to look for assistance.

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired, sad, or down often
  • Changes in sleep habits – too much sleep or not enough
  • Unplanned weight changes
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Becoming easily irritated or upset
  • Losing interest in activities that used to be enjoyable

Stress Management for Caregivers: Five Tips for Finding Stress Relief

How do you look after yourself while looking after a senior loved one? Consider these five tips for finding stress relief:

  1. Ask for help. No one person can do it all. Whether it’s seeking out paid services (like grocery delivery or cleaning), delegating tasks to other family members, or asking a friend to pick up something at the store, you don’t have to do it alone.
  2. Accept help. Sometimes help can come from unexpected places. Help might come in the form of a friendly neighbor volunteering to assist with pet care. Or, a tech savvy family member or friend may help set up an app to coordinate caregiving (see below).
  3. Try tech. There are apps for everything, including caregiving.
    • Apps like CaringBridge and Ianacare help caregivers share information and coordinate help with family and friends.
    • There also are apps available to help you care for yourself. Calm, Headspace, and InsightTimer all offer calming meditations to soothe stress and help with sleep.
  4. Know your resources. Not every caregiver has family or friends nearby to help. Connect with your local Area Agency on Aging to get to know resources for seniors and caregivers in your area.
  5. Seek support. Caregiver support groups and therapeutic support for caregivers are more widely available than ever. Groups have begun to meet in person again. Plus, the events of the past two years have made online support groups and telemedicine more accessible. That can be a particularly welcome option when you’re already managing appointments for a loved one.

Caregiver Help at Sunnyside Manor

Family caregivers are an important part of the Sunnyside Manor community. See our video resources for caregivers, learn about caregiver events on our events page, or visit our photo gallery to get a feel for our community of residents, families, and helpful staff.

Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor

When it is time to make decisions about senior living, we are here to help. Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.

Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier senior living community. It features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

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