Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Caregiver Stress

Statistics from a recent survey indicate that more than three-fourths (76 percent) of the 8,000 family caregivers who took an online caregiver stress test reported that their aging loved one’s needs are overwhelming.

As more adults age well into their 80s and 90s, family members are taking on the role of caregiver. In fact, approximately 33.9 million people caring for someone 50 or older in the United States, according to a 2005 study by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

While the job has its rewards, new evidence reveals a disturbing trend of debilitating stress for the estimated one in four Americans sandwiched between raising their kids, and Mom and Dad.

Responses gathered through the Home Instead Senior Care site also showed that 91 percent of family caregivers have episodes of feeling anxious or irritable, 73 percent have disturbed sleep patterns, and 56 percent seem to become ill more frequently.

Home Instead offers these caregiver survival tools:

Work out: Exercise and enjoy something you like to do (walking, dancing, biking, running or swimming) for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times per week.

Sit still and breathe deeply with your mind as “quiet” as possible whenever you feel overwhelmed.

Ask for help: Enlist the help of other family members, friends and professional caregivers for assistance.

Take a break: Don’t feel guilty for wanting some time away. Use your support system so you can schedule breaks.

Eat well: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins, including nuts and beans and whole grains.

Take care of yourself: Get your annual check-up. Being a caregiver provides many excuses for skipping necessary exams, but don’t compromise your health.

Indulge: Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to reward yourself.

Support: Join a local caregiver support group to get advice and to help you understand that what you are feeling is normal.

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2 comment(s):

Hi Pat, I am new to your site and found it quite interesting.

I am a 42-year old mom caring for two little children (one not yet in school) and my aging parents.

My father is terminally ill and my mother's health is also failing.

To say that I am stressed and emtionally drained would be an understatement--not to mention the guilt!

Small children need their mommys but it seems the needs of my parents always tend to come first (due to health issues).

I clean,cook, and take care of all the household responsibilites at my parents' condo yet our own home is a complete and utter mess. There simply isn't the time to do it all.

I sooo wish there were legislation in place to help people like me. Even assistance for daycare--ANYTHING would help!!

I am happy to care for my parents but I hadn't counted on the emotional toll it would take on me.

I wish you much luck in your situation!! If there were ever a person who knows what you are going through--it is me.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:58 PM  

Welcome! I hope you'll stop by often. You are quickly becoming an expert in this relatively new lifestyle. Contribute your experiences often. You represent a growing number of women. How do you do it? How do you take care of yourself in the process?

I guess that one "benefit" is that you are teaching your children the importance of family and caring for those who need support. Someday they will be making decisions for you, so give them a good example!

By Blogger Pat, at 9:30 PM  

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