As the population ages and in-home care is proving the most viable option for many households across the country, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and loved ones are becoming the nation’s front line caregivers. A majority of these caregivers have little to no training in elderly care but have often been thrust to the forefront of elderly care duties.
Caregiving can be emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelming at times. If left unchecked it can take a significant toll on your health, relationships, and ability to be the best caregiver possible.
Caregiving is often thrust upon a family member or loved one without prior warning or notice and can lead to months or years of long term care. With often their condition deteriorating, the level of care needed will intensify and demand on the carer increases. Unless addressed, the stress of caregiving can leave many with anxiety issues, depression, and burnout.
Acknowledging Your Feelings
Being a carer can involve a rollercoaster ride of emotions. You might feel stressed, angry, guilty, lonely or sad, and sometimes all these feelings at once!
The key is to understand that you are not the first person to experience this, you won’t be the last, and are not alone. These feelings come and go and this should be acknowledged. It’s better to feel your feelings rather than bottle them up. Finding a person to trust and confide in will prove helpful.
SeniorCareAsia was created to allow carers the opportunity to interact and share their highs and lows.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Self-diagnosis is never easy. However, a caregiver who is effectively burnt out, exhausted, and close to mental distress is no longer in a safe space to care for the elderly.
Common signs include:
- Anxiety, depression, irritability (short fuse)
- Feeling tired, worn out, and run down whilst often overreacting to small annoyances
- Restlessness and difficulty sleeping at night
- New or worsening health problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling increasingly resentful
- Drinking, smoking, or eating more
- Avoiding responsibilities
Look After Yourself
- Ask for help. Every little bit helps, whether it’s receiving support with the weekly shopping, paying bills, or cooking the odd meal once a week. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Set realistic goals on what you can achieve in one given day, and then take every day as it comes.
- Treat yourself each day or once a week and have something to look forward too. This may be as simple as 30 minutes reading a chapter from your favourite book or going to the wet market with friends or family.
Take a walk to clear your head when you feel overwhelmed.
- Keep active! Take a walk to get some exercise and stretch your legs.
- Don’t neglect your health. Ensure you keep to your regular medical check-ups.
- Don’t forget about your friends; stay social, stay connected. WhatsApp does not replace face-to-face.
- Give yourself a break. Ask friends or family members to pitch in. Take time to rest.
- ‘Chunk it down’. The famous saying by Chicken Soup for the Soul author, Jack Canfield, is great advice for any caregiver. Break large tasks which seem overwhelming into smaller activities. Prioritise and tackle them one at a time.
- Establish a daily routine that supports you.
Points to Remember:
- Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.
- It’s okay to show your feelings when you’re sad or upset. Cry or express your feelings your way. You don’t have to pretend to be cheerful.
- Choose your battles – focus on things that are really worth your time and energy. Let the small things go.
- Don’t be your own worst critic.
- When you have a spare moment – rest, reflect, and acknowledge your feelings. Write them down in a journal and recall what the triggers were to make you feel that way.