Caregivers for seniors, and individuals taking care of family members who are sick or disabled, come from every age, gender, and socioeconomic group. While they share many positive aspects of caregiving, there can also be struggles. In some cases, caregivers feel they had no choice in taking on their role. This can lead to feelings of stress, resentment, and worry.
When you are caregiver, sometimes you lose sight of what is most important: Taking care of yourself! Take care of your needs. Then, you will be better equipped as a caregiver.
43.5 million Americans are currently caregivers for seniors or helpers for an ill family member, according to research on caregiving done by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. If you are one of these millions of caregivers, know that stress can put your health and well-being at risk. Learn how to ask for help. Van Blarcom Consulting is available to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Increased Risk of Depression in Caregivers for Seniors
Caregivers have shown increased levels of depression and physical health problems. There is also a higher risk for substance abuse, in the form of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. The continuous demands of being a caregiver can create exhaustion, anxiety, depression, stress, and worry. The stage is set for someone to not exhibit self-care when the demands of a caregiver are paired with a lack of support.
Discovering How to Take Care of Yourself
If you are in a pattern of not taking care of yourself, you will need to identify why this is happening in order to change your life. Through counseling, you will be given opportunities to talk through your problems and find patterns to your behavior. Possibly, you are exhibiting lifelong habits that may be in need of adjusting.
- Do you think it would be selfish to put your own needs first?
- Do you find yourself feeling that your loved one’s health is solely your responsibility?
- Is caregiving the only way to get the love and attention you crave?
Moving Forward with Your Life
Caregivers often report sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, and letting their own health go unchecked to take care of a loved one. Warning signs of stress include feeling irritable and forgetfulness. All of these unhealthy behaviors won’t cure the person you are caring for. It is essential you take care of yourself. Taking optimal care of your own health will enable you to give better care to your loved one.
Once you have started to identify any personal barriers to good self-care, you can begin to change your behavior, moving forward one small step at a time. If you need help, reach out to friends, family, or a professional and talk through your problems. Remember, identifying negative emotions can be a strength, not a weakness. Rather than ignoring feelings of anger and guilt, address them and improve your life.
Prioritize yourself and get the help you need. Contact Kendall Van Blarcom today for counseling.