Many are affected by “caregiver stress,” a condition resulting from caregiving that can trigger illness.
Being a caregiver means being in charge of a patient with a chronic illness or condition that prevents them from taking care of themself. This is when a caregiver is needed, helping the patient prepare and eat food, take medications, bathe, dress, and other daily actions that may be difficult.
Undoubtedly, it is a job that requires extreme care and attention, which in the long run can represent a high physical and emotional impact on the caregiver’s health. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, this happens because there is a tendency to neglect one’s own health in order to focus on the patient’s health.
According to the entity, caregivers have been shown to be more prone to alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse, or suffer from anxiety disorders, heart disease, infections, obesity, muscle and joint pain, and headaches.
To prevent this, and bearing in mind that a healthy caregiver also benefits the quality of life of the person in their care, the U.S. National Library of Medicine offers some recommendations:
- Lean on your community: many communities have adult day care or respite services. Using these services can give you a break from your duties.
- Ask for and accept help: let those who offer to help you do so. For example, someone could sit with the person you care for while you run errands, or they could pick up groceries for you.
- Join a support group: these can allow you to share stories, hear suggestions for care, and get support from others facing the same challenges.
- Stay in touch: emotional support from family and friends is important, so don’t neglect those relationships.
- Take care of your own health: try to stay physically active, eat healthy food, and get plenty of sleep. Also be sure to keep up with your medical care, such as regular checkups and exams.
- Consider vacation: spending quality time away from your duties can relieve pressure, improve your self-esteem, and reduce stress.