Tag Archives: Stress

Stress-busting Tips For Caregivers

Caring for your aging or ill parent can wreak havoc on a caregiver’s health. Add to the mix, caring for your own family and perhaps holding down a job and you can see how important it is to take a step back and take care of yourself. You may be the type of person who says, “I can do this all myself,” but when it comes to raising a family, pursuing a career and caring for aging parents, the toll those tasks can take on your health could be devastating.

Here are some tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help you remain healthy and available for those who are relying on you:

  • Did you know that meditating only ten minutes a day can drastically improve your emotional health? Whether you chant a mantra or simply choose a quiet spot to meditate on something that brings you joy (visualization of a relaxing environment, for example) taking ten minutes out of your day can help you face whatever comes with a better, more positive attitude.
  • Stockpile your freezer with heat and eat dinners. If you have limited amounts of time to cook, making meals in batches for the week ahead can relieve the “what’s for dinner” questions you may be faced with when you come home from work. Making meals in batches, freezing them and even labeling them with heating instructions can help you not only eat healthier meals but will make meal-time a breeze. If you spend your time driving back and forth between your aging relatives’ home, your home, work and running errands having access to healthy snacks can be a lifesaver and help you avoid driving through a fast food joint for a meal. Keep nuts, dried fruits, vegetables or even a peanut butter sandwich with you. High fiber, fresh, whole grain snacks are      the best.
  • Do you ever notice that when you rush to complete a task you sometimes either make a mess of it, break something, or injure someone? As a caregiver, there are myriad pressing tasks, but slowing down and completing them will help you stay focused and may even help relieve some stress. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone; recruit friends or family members to help with some of the tasks you never seem to get to – spring cleaning, lawn maintenance, bathroom cleaning, etc.
  • You need your rest. Whether you find a way to take a day or two off from your caregiving duties or whether you make it a practice to get eight hours of sleep a night, relaxation and getting enough sleep go a long way in helping you stay health. If you’re losing sleep, you will obviously be fatigued, but lack of sleep can negatively impact your mood and cause anxiety. One way that caregivers find that helps relieve the stress of leaving their senior parents alone for the overnight or for long stretches of time is to have a home medical emergency device. These devices provide the aging individual with a medical alert pendant which means that at the push of a button they have immediate access to a trained individual that will initiate emergency medical response teams and contact you as well. These devices are ideal for both peace of mind for the caregiver and the individual wearing it.

It may seem counter-intuitive to you to take a day off and you may feel guilty about it, but talk with your family members and let them know that in order to continue to care for them you need to care for yourself as well.

Dealing With Relatives Suffering Dementia Doubles Caregiver Stress And Chance Of Depression

In the world of caregiving, stress, anger and sometimes even depression go along with the duties of taking care of aging relatives. Caregivers need to take heed of any drastic or ongoing changes in mood or health. If you’re feeling angry, lonely or sad for long periods of time, it could be a case of depression, not uncommon in caregiving situations.

It’s not that the act of caring for an elderly relative causes depression. It’s not that everyone who takes on the role of caregiver will suffer this, but it is something to be aware of. The effort that it takes to care for an elderly loved one, especially if you’re in the midst of raising your own family and working full time can be daunting and lead to overwhelm and frustration. Trying to “do it all” can result in the feelings of isolation, exhaustion, anger and anxiety and these also lead to the caregiver feeling guilty for even having these emotions. In some cases, adults take on the role of caring for their aging parents as a way to “give back” but end up feeling resentful of taking care of the very individual who raised him or her. Be aware that if you are suffering depression, taking a day or two off will help lessen the feelings but you can’t simply “snap out of” it. The symptoms need to be addressed and in many instances you will need to ask for help, either from a mental health professional or from a friend or family member if you can enlist them to help share the burden of the caregiving tasks.

While you may not be able to completely stave off depression, paying careful attention to the symptoms are a good start. How can you do this? Though paying attention to diet, getting exercise, caring for yourself, taking time off and enlisting the help and support of friends and family. Your family may not be aware that you are suffering the strains of caregiving and unless you speak up, they will remain in the dark.

“Feeling down” may be a precursor to depression, but if you’re not sure, here are some symptoms to be aware of:

  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Change in eating habits that lead to weight gain or weight loss
  • Being quick to anger or frustration at minor irritations
  • The feeling that nothing you do for your parents is “good enough”
  • Ongoing physical symptoms that will not respond to treatment. Suffering chronic pain or digestive orders
  • At the extreme end of the spectrum are thoughts of suicide

Some of the reason caregivers suffer stress and depression is the fact that they may not feel appreciated for all they are doing to help their elderly relatives. Add to this the difficulties that come from dealing with an adult parent that is suffering dementia and it’s been found that this situation means the caregiver is twice as likely to suffer depression than a caregiver taking care of a relative without dementia. The reason for this is that caring for a relative with dementia can be an all-consuming 24 hour a day task.

The reason for the increased risk of depression in those caring for parents with dementia is that this type of caregiving can be almost all consuming. Individuals suffering dementia may exhibit symptoms such as agitation, unwarranted anger, wandering off, hoarding and inappropriate actions and this makes it more difficult for the caregiver than “typical” caregiving issues. These caregivers likely provide more hours per week of care, likely need to take more time off from work and deal with higher levels of mental stress and physical health issues. When you add to the mix that when dealing with a parent with dementia you feel you’re “not appreciated” it can contribute to the depressive feelings caregivers undergo.

Addressing symptoms of depression

What do you do if you think you’re suffering depression? You need to track your symptoms and contact a physician. It may not be easy to admit you have depression so when you visit your doctor describe your symptoms and the outside stressors you’re experiencing with caregiving; chances are your doctor will be able to read between the lines.

What will your doctor do for you?

The first step in addressing depression is to visit your doctor who may refer you to a mental health professional. Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the condition and may also prescribe other lab tests.

What can you do for yourself?

  • The number one item is to ask for help. Ask for help from family members. Ask for help from your doctor.
  • Take time away from caregiving. If you don’t have a friend or relative that lives close by, look into hiring a home healthcare worker to relieve you.
  • Equip the home and your parents with a medical alert device. These devices can be lifesavers when you’re not in attendance and offer peace of mind beyond compare
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones – for example if you need to clean the house, do the yard work, cook the meals, etc. Ask for help or do a little at a time
  • Make time for physical exercise, this not only clears your head and gives you perspective but being physically active benefits everyone
  • Talk to a trusted friend about what you’re going through. You may feel guilty at your frustrated feelings toward the role of caregiver, but remember it is natural
  • Spend time with friends
  • Get your parents involved in adult day care activities as a way to allow them to socialize and to allow you time off knowing they are in good hands

Caregiving is a stressful undertaking and anyone who might tell you differently has likely never been in the situation before. You need to be kind to yourself so that you can give your best to your relatives.

Helping Caregivers Deal With Stress

Along with the sense of satisfaction that comes with caring for an ill or disabled parent comes the stress. The reason for this double-edged sword is that it is challenging to not only care for the individual who cared for you for your formative years, but at the same time you may be juggling the responsibilities of your own home, raising your own children and the demands of a career.

When you’re caring for an aging parent you may have to negotiate time off from work to deal with their illness or take them to doctor’s visits and there will likely be the inevitable tension-filled family dynamics that could arise from one family member feeling he is shouldering most of the load to conflicting ideas on care and caregiving. All of these tensions can contribute to increased stress which can then lead to poor physical and emotional health.

If you find yourself in the role of caregiver for an aging parent, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the stress, including:

  • Going online and looking for advice. Asking your family doctor for ways to cope.
  • Ask friends and family members for help. In many cases, one sibling jumps in and takes control without asking for advice or help and then resentments grow as he or she feels she is shouldering too much of the burden. You need to ask for help because if you don’t your siblings may not realize you need it. Additionally, when the health of your parent becomes too much to manage without specialized medical training, you will need to look for a trained in home medical professional to provide care
  • Look for a support group for caregivers. This could be a valuable resource and a great way to interact with individuals coping with the same stresses you are.
  • Make certain you take time for yourself. You need to be able to step away from the role of caregiver and simply relax or spend time with your family. Make arrangements with a sibling or friend or even a hired caregiver so that you can take a day or two off a week from the responsibilities.
  • Install a medical alert system and have your parents make certain they always wear their medical alert pendant. This equipment provides peace of mind for all parties in the fact that if you step away for several hours – or for overnights – you know that if your parent suffers a trip or fall or medical emergency all he needs to do is press a button and help will be available.
  • Fit in time for daily exercise. A walk around the block. A few laps in a pool. Any kind of exercise that gets your heart pumping can help alleviate stress.
  • Eat healthy meals. It may be tempting to drive through and pick up fast food for meals, especially when you’re pressed for time, but eating a well-balanced diet can help you keep your energy levels up.
  • Try to practice patience. This is usually much easier said than done. Remember there will be good days and bad days for your parents – and in turn, for you – you need to remember they aren’t doing or saying anything in malice, they are likely coping with mental health issues and that can manifest itself in being difficult and trying. When they are no longer with you, it may be a comfort to know you’ve spent quality time with them even though it may not have always been easy or gratifying.

Whether becoming a caregiver was a decision that arose from thoughtful deliberation or one that came about as the result of a sudden illness, it is something that should be thought about and talked about with both your parents and other siblings to make certain the arrangement suits everyone involved.

Helping Caregivers Deal With Stress

Along with the sense of satisfaction that comes with caring for an ill or disabled parent comes the stress. The reason for this double-edged sword is that it is challenging to not only care for the individual who cared for you for your formative years, but at the same time you may be juggling the responsibilities of your own home, raising your own children and the demands of a career.

When you’re caring for an aging parent you may have to negotiate time off from work to deal with their illness or take them to doctor’s visits and there will likely be the inevitable tension-filled family dynamics that could arise from one family member feeling he is shouldering most of the load to conflicting ideas on care and caregiving. All of these tensions can contribute to increased stress which can then lead to poor physical and emotional health.

If you find yourself in the role of caregiver for an aging parent, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the stress, including:

  • Going online and looking for advice. Asking your family doctor for ways to cope.
  • Ask friends and family members for help. In many cases, one sibling jumps in and takes control without asking for advice or help and then resentments grow as he or she feels she is shouldering too much of the burden. You need to ask for help because if you don’t your siblings may not realize you need it. Additionally, when the health of your parent becomes too much to manage without specialized medical training, you will need to look for a trained in home medical professional to provide care
  • Look for a support group for caregivers. This could be a valuable resource and a great way to interact with individuals coping with the same stresses you are.
  • Make certain you take time for yourself. You need to be able to step away from the role of caregiver and simply relax or spend time with your family. Make arrangements with a sibling or friend or even a hired caregiver so that you can take a day or two off a week from the responsibilities.
  • Install a medical alert system and have your parents make certain they always wear their medical alert pendant. This equipment provides peace of mind for all parties in the fact that if you step away for several hours – or for overnights – you know that if your parent suffers a trip or fall or medical emergency all he needs to do is press a button and help will be available.
  • Fit in time for daily exercise. A walk around the block. A few laps in a pool. Any kind of exercise that gets your heart pumping can help alleviate stress.
  • Eat healthy meals. It may be tempting to drive through and pick up fast food for meals, especially when you’re pressed for time, but eating a well-balanced diet can help you keep your energy levels up.
  • Try to practice patience. This is usually much easier said than done. Remember there will be good days and bad days for your parents – and in turn, for you – you need to remember they aren’t doing or saying anything in malice, they are likely coping with mental health issues and that can manifest itself in being difficult and trying. When they are no longer with you, it may be a comfort to know you’ve spent quality time with them even though it may not have always been easy or gratifying.

Whether becoming a caregiver was a decision that arose from thoughtful deliberation or one that came about as the result of a sudden illness, it is something that should be thought about and talked about with both your parents and other siblings to make certain the arrangement suits everyone involved.

For Your Health’s Sake Get A Grip On Stress

Whether you’re a caregiver or the elderly relative in need of care, stress impacts everyone. Regardless of whether it’s work, family situations, finances, failing health or even a social situation, stress can lead to potentially harmful impacts on your mind and body. Not all stress is harmful, though, there are times when a stressful situation may motivate you to make a decision or meet a deadline, but long term, chronic stress is another matter entirely.

Each individual responds to stress in his or her unique way and what is stressful for one person may not cause any anxiety in another. The ways in which you respond to your particular stress triggers can help you cope. For example how to react to stress can hinge on myriad items, including:

  • Your overall view of the situation. Is it as bad as you originally imagined?
  • Do you think you can get through the stressful situation? In other words, can you see light at the end of the tunnel?
  • Are you generally an optimistic or a pessimistic individual? Your attitude going into a situation could also impact the amount of stress is places on you.
  • What is your general state of health and mental well being? Have you been sleeping well? Eating healthy? Exercising regularly? Your overall health situation will impact how stress affects you.

Stress, especially chronic stress can lead to overall anxiety, sleep issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety and depression. In the case of a caregiver and his or her stress, feelings of guilt may also factor into the stressful situation. Gaining control of your stress and managing stressful situations will help you get back on an even keel and lead you back toward a happier, healthier state.

Here are some steps you can take to rein in your stress:

  • Take control of the situation. There are items you can easily address and there are items that may be out of your control – determine which are which and then tackle those that you can and ask for help on those that are beyond your control. Simply knowing what you can and cannot do can relieve stress.
  • Write it down. Many people find they wake in the middle of the night with a to-do list running through their heads. To avoid this it’s best to write a list of items you know you need to complete; the simple act of writing it down will usually remove it from your mind. Also, don’t forget to write down those items which cause you the most stress. Writing them down may help you see a solution you hadn’t considered previously. Write down items which can be delegated to other family members or for which you may need outside, professional help; remember to ask others to help share the load.
  • Learn to say no. Remember, it’s all right to simply take a step back and take a day off from caregiving; or if you’re a senior that babysits the grandchildren you too can ask for a day off. There are times when a caregiver needs to take care of him or herself and the best way to do that is to ask for relief and a day off.
  • Prioritize and set limits. Only you know what are the most important items for yourself and your family. If you’re a member of the so-called “sandwich generation” (those who are raising their own families while caring for aging parents) you need to balance time with your family as well as with your parents. Once you’ve listed priorities take a hard look at the list and see if there are items you could delegate or simply not do.

Finding ways to manage stress will lead to a healthier and happier life for both the caregiver and the senior. Remember too, as a caregiver you need to be cognizant of the stress your aging relative may be under. Take time to sit with them and ask what stress they may be experiencing and seek out ways to help them cope – you will all be better off for it.

Five Ways To Reduce Holiday Family Stress

Holidays bring with them holiday stress and when you’re a caregiver you may be dealing with more than your usual levels of stress because you know that there are not enough hours in a “regular” day to juggle the activities the holidays bring. You may wonder how you’ll get everything done – taking care of your parents, your children, your significant other and of course, yourself.

Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your holiday stress this season:

  1. What are your holiday priorities and traditions? What are your obligations to those traditions? Can you let some of the obligations slide? Is it time to rethink priorities and traditions to accommodate the change in family dynamics? If items like baking dozens of cookies are a tradition, why not start a cookie exchange? Gather a group of friends or family and break the task down while still being able to enjoy a wide variety of holiday baked goods. The same goes for holiday meals; enlist the aid of family members to help with the cooking and clean up.
  2. Have a central calendar. Work with all of the caregivers involved in taking care of your aging relatives and write down the dates and times of holiday parties and events. Also plan who will take your parents holiday shopping and when. Note the dates you, if you’re the main caregiver, may need off to tend to strictly personal family obligations.
  3. Streamline your shopping trips and your shopping lists. Is it time to scale back on the number of gifts you purchase? Can you shop online and have the items gift wrapped and shipped? This will save you from having to fight the crowds at the malls. How about drawing names out of a hat and buying a gift for one person rather than the whole crowd? Buy gifts for the entire family, consider movie passes, certificates to theme parks or restaurants. Check the cupboards for items necessary for holiday events and shop early to avoid the crowds.
  4. Dressing for the season. This means you need to take time to pack away the summer clothing and pull out the warm weather attire. Do this before the season is in full swing to make certain the clothes that got packed away last year still fit this year. Try on shoes, boots, jackets and other warm winter attire to see if it is still wearable or if you’ll need to make a shopping excursion.
  5. Spend time at home. Are there holiday obligations that require you to pack up the car and the family and drive for hours to different locations? Can you combine your visits and have everyone meet at a central location? Can you begin a new holiday tradition and have it at your aging relatives’ home rather than having to make them go out into the cold and potentially snowy weather? Imagine the joy on your parents face at having all of the family converge on their home for a holiday meal. Also, the time you spend preparing for the meal is a great time to make memories with them.

 

Tips To Avoid Caregiver Burnout

 

Research has shown that baby boomers, in unprecedented numbers are facing extreme levels of stress because they’re juggling duties of taking care of their own families, work and home and are being called upon to take on the role of caregiver for their aging parents. A study conducted by the Hartford Financial Services Group showed that 80% of baby boomers were reporting moderate to high levels of stress because of their caregiving responsibilities. It’s also been reported that many of these same individuals are being faced with the choice of leaving their jobs and careers to care for an aging parent; this leads to the baby boomer sacrificing his or her own financial stability, health and lifestyle to take on this role.

 

As a way to help reduce some of that stress, many of these adult children are turning to home medical alert systems as a way to help relieve concerns over the health and well-being of their parents during the times they can’t be there. These medical alert devices are worn by the aging parent and in the event of a slip or fall or other medical emergency, at the push of a button the device activates a two way communication device alerting the LifeFone Emergency Response Center.  Based on the personal profile set up by the user, the emergency response team will contact medical personnel and family members to provide assistance. These devices are especially welcomed by those adult seniors that are determined to remain in their own homes. The medical alert device provides peace of mind for both the aging parent and their family and caregivers.

 

When you consider that being a caregiver can feel like having a second job, you need to take some steps to relieve your stress while still making certain your aging parent is cared for. Here are some steps to take to relieve your stress:

 

  • Ask siblings and your children for help. Get as many family members involved as you possibly can.
  • Search out caregiving services in your area. Contact senior service organizations and your church to see what services are available.
  • Look into senior living facility options and gauge your parents’ receptiveness to moving into one of these facilities.
  • Invest in a medical alert system. Peace of mind can be had through the use of one of these devices.

 

Taking a day off from caregiving is also a great way to avoid burnout and stress. Plan in advance and then enjoy the day, both you and your parents will benefit from your taking a breather as you will likely come back refreshed and in a better mood!

 

 

Tips To Avoid Caregiver Burnout

 

Research has shown that baby boomers, in unprecedented numbers are facing extreme levels of stress because they’re juggling duties of taking care of their own families, work and home and are being called upon to take on the role of caregiver for their aging parents. A study conducted by the Hartford Financial Services Group showed that 80% of baby boomers were reporting moderate to high levels of stress because of their caregiving responsibilities. It’s also been reported that many of these same individuals are being faced with the choice of leaving their jobs and careers to care for an aging parent; this leads to the baby boomer sacrificing his or her own financial stability, health and lifestyle to take on this role.

 

As a way to help reduce some of that stress, many of these adult children are turning to home medical alert systems as a way to help relieve concerns over the health and well-being of their parents during the times they can’t be there. These medical alert devices are worn by the aging parent and in the event of a slip or fall or other medical emergency, at the push of a button the device activates a two way communication device alerting the LifeFone Emergency Response Center.  Based on the personal profile set up by the user, the emergency response team will contact medical personnel and family members to provide assistance. These devices are especially welcomed by those adult seniors that are determined to remain in their own homes. The medical alert device provides peace of mind for both the aging parent and their family and caregivers.

 

When you consider that being a caregiver can feel like having a second job, you need to take some steps to relieve your stress while still making certain your aging parent is cared for. Here are some steps to take to relieve your stress:

 

  • Ask siblings and your children for help. Get as many family members involved as you possibly can.
  • Search out caregiving services in your area. Contact senior service organizations and your church to see what services are available.
  • Look into senior living facility options and gauge your parents’ receptiveness to moving into one of these facilities.
  • Invest in a medical alert system. Peace of mind can be had through the use of one of these devices.

 

Taking a day off from caregiving is also a great way to avoid burnout and stress. Plan in advance and then enjoy the day, both you and your parents will benefit from your taking a breather as you will likely come back refreshed and in a better mood!

 

 

Seven Steps For Caregiver Self-Care

Until you’re in the role of caregiver it’s hard to imagine the stress associated with caring for another. In the beginning of your role as caregiver the needs you’re addressing for your elderly loved ones may be simple, a short visit or a trip to the grocery store. As time goes on though, their needs will increase to the point where it will almost seem like you’re taking on a new full time job. For those in the “sandwich generation” so called for those who are raising their own families, concentrating on their careers and taking on the role of caregiver for their adult parents, it can be a daunting task.

LifeFone, provider of home medical alert systems offers these tips for caregivers:

  1. Thoroughly understand what your responsibilities are when caring for your elderly relative. If you have other family members around you should divvy up the responsibilities.
  2. Knowing as much as possible about the senior you’re caring is crucial to understanding their particular ailments, likes, dislikes and routines.
  3. Remain in-the-know about the ongoing health conditions of the individuals you’re caring for. You need to be apprised of any changes in health status or medication needs. If there are changes in activities or foods that need to be added or avoided.
  4. Let the senior you’re caring for do as much for him or her as possible. Keeping active and staying involved in everyday routines and tasks will help them to stay healthy, alert and involved. Additionally, anger can set in with the senior when they see their independence slipping away.
  5. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on the senior. If possible swap days with another caregiver. It may be difficult at times but you need to show the senior warmth and concern because they are dealing with aging and in many cases it is a frightening time for them as they watch their independence slipping away.
  6. Take time to simply sit and visit. Many senior citizens look forward to company simply because they want someone to listen. Even if there are times your elderly loved one seems to slip into the past, it’s important that you are patient and give them time to spend time with you.
  7. Ask for additional help if you need it. If you’re in a situation where you’re the only family member available to help out your aging parent, you need to be willing to ask for help. Whether you need to call in additional caregivers or a home healthcare aide, there will come a time when you need to rely on the expertise of others, especially as your parents continue to age and their needs become more than you can handle on your own.

The ability to age in place is a gift that you can give to your elderly relatives and this is made even more possible through the use of a home medical alert system.

Preventative Health Screenings in your 40s

Being a caregiver, it comes with the territory that you are more focused on putting someone else’s health before your own. Neglecting your own health, however, is never a good idea. Even if you feel entirely healthy, you should not forgo participating in regular check-ups for potential problems.

Don’t rob yourself of your health, allow your doctor to check for common risk factors for people in their 40s. Most people who have high blood pressure aren’t even aware that they have it. The only way to find out is to check your blood pressure regularly. Ask your doctor to screen for:

 

  • Blood pressure: You should have your blood pressure checked every two years unless its 120-139/80-89, then you should have it checked every year. It is common for your blood pressure to rise, but it can be lowered through diet, exercise and medication. Lowering your blood pressure is the key to longevity.
  • Blood sugar: If you haven’t always had the best eating habits, you may have overworked your pancreas. This can lead to diabetes. At the age of 45 you should begin getting a fasting blood sugar test every three years.
  • Eye Exam: Until you reach the age of 60 doctors recommend getting your eyes checked every two years for common problems like presbyopia, glaucoma and macular degneration.
  •  Cholesterol: One is five Americans has high cholesterol, which has been linked to heart attack and stroke – these diseases claim a life every 33 seconds.
  • Immunizations: Doctors recommend getting a flu vaccine every year and a tetanus-diphtheria every ten years.
  • Dental Exam: Visit your dentist every year for a checkup and cleaning.
  • Preventative Health: Until you reach the age of 50 you should check your height and weight, and screen for alcohol and tobacco use and depression every every two years. After 50 you should have these looked at every year.

Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving by putting your health first. Being a caregiver adds additional stress to your body, making yearly exams that much more important.

* As with all medical suggestions and advice, you should be sure to consult your personal physician for recommendations as they pertain to your care and not rely on material provided herein.