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13 Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caring for your elderly parents or someone else you love is stressful. A lot of demands are put on you. And many times, this job was dumped in your lap.  On top of that, you were never given a manual of how to do this job. So, you wing it day by day. You do the best you can.

Family and friends may offer suggestions. And sometimes it may feel as if they’re criticizing. And the truth is some of them may be criticizing. But most of the time they’re trying to help the only way they know how. Chances are they’ve never done this job either.

The first step in dealing with caregiver stress is to recognize the signs and symptoms once you do then you can enlist help and support that you need.

1.Depression.

Caregiver Stress- depression

Do you find yourself crying a lot? Maybe you feel hopeless a lot of the time. Your energy is low. Sometimes you just don’t feel like even getting out of bed in the morning. These are symptoms that you could be falling into depression. it’s important to get this checked out. After all, this doesn’t the person you’re caring for deserve someone who isn’t depressed.

2. Constant Worrying

We all worry from time to time but if you’re constantly worrying from the time you get up in the morning until practically the time you go to bed then there’s a problem. And it’s a sign that you’re suffering from caregiver stress. Joining a caregiver support group may ease your worries. Learning from others who have been in your shoes will help you have the confidence you need.

3.Changes in appetite or eating habits

Some people eat a whole lot more when they’re depressed and stressed while other people won’t eat anything at all. Either change is a sign that you may be suffering from stress-related symptoms.

4.Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities

There are certain things that you know need to be taken care of and need to be addressed but for some reason, you just keep avoiding them you keep procrastinating.

Dan knew he needed to get his legal documents in order. He needed to do this for both himself and his elderly mother. But he kept procrastinating. There was always something more important to do. When his Mom fell and was hospitalized Dan began to understand the consequences of his inaction. Luckily Mom was still able to sign the papers needed to allow Dan to act on her behalf. The Hilbun Law Firm was able to send an attorney to the hospital to help get the proper paperwork in order.

5.Withdrawal

Have you stepped away from your friends? Are you returning their phone calls and texts? Or perhaps you are ignoring them and pulling away. Caregivers have a full plate and often use the excuse that they are too busy caring for Mom to socialize. But it’s extremely important that they take time to be social and to be with other people. Friends and family can offer a lot of help and support. Withdrawing from them is a sign that the stress has taken over your life.

6.Anxiety

Caregiver stress- anxiety

Do you often feel as if you don’t have enough time to do everything you need to do? Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak? Knowing that another crisis is probably going to happen can cause you to feel anxious and afraid. This too is a sign of stress.

7.Anger

It is not uncommon for caregivers to lash out at the person they’re caring for. And then the guilt sets in.  You feel so guilty for lashing out and getting frustrated with the one you love. Moreover, you are aware that they couldn’t control whatever behavior it was it you wanted them to control. Still, you became angry and now you feel bad.

Caregivers who care for someone with Dementia or any kind of a cognitive disability often admit that they have gotten angry and lashed out. It’s really hard not to get frustrated sometimes. Dad followed Diane around the house like a puppy dog. Shadowing, it’s called. Diane understood that her father could not help his behavior but sometimes she just wanted to be left alone.

Hiring someone to come into the home to care for dad a couple times a week gave Diane that much needed alone time. If you find yourself getting angry and frustrated with your loved one more often there’s a good chance that your stress is out of control.

8.Loss of concentration/ short-term memory issues

Susan is panicked. She’s been caring for her elderly mother who has dementia. She is a freelance writer. Lately, Susan has not been able to concentrate on her writing. She’s been very forgetful also. She even forgot her granddaughter’s birthday. Susan is worried that she’s getting dementia also.

But what’s happening to Susan is common in a lot of caregivers. They’re juggling so many things. They are responsible for Mom’s medications, doctor appointments, other health care providers and more. And they’re trying to remember everything that they have to do. It’s no surprise that they’re forgetting a lot of things that they consider important. Taking time out to get a handle on her stress Susan found that her memory was back to normal in no time. Her problem wasn’t dementia, it was stress!

 

9.Insomnia.

Caregiver Stress- Insomnia

Inability to get a good night sleep is a huge red flag. Our body requires a certain amount of sleep. If you are unable to get to sleep when you should or you’re constantly waking during the middle of the night your body will suffer the effects. It’s no wonder that you’ll be feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted. Furthermore, you may be unable to perform simple tasks. That memory issue that Susan was worried about could be tied to the lack of sleep that she was getting. Prescription sleep aids may be a short-term solution but should not be relied on as a permanent solution.

10.Exhaustion

Caregiver Stress- ExhaustionIf you find that when you wake up in the morning You still feel tired and you have a lot of difficulty getting out of bed in the morning you’re suffering from signs of exhaustion. Are you taking a good multi-vitamin? How about exercise during the day? Eating healthy? All of these things can contribute to your exhaustion.

11.Drinking or smoking

If you start picking up a habit that you haven’t been doing or maybe you had quit doing like drinking and smoking this can be a sign of a real problem. Also, if you notice that you’re drinking or smoking a lot more often than you used to that can also be a sign of a real problem. These behaviors may make you feel better in the short term. However, they can and will have a negative effect on your long-term health.

12.Health problems

Headaches, nausea and upset stomach are all common symptoms of stress. If you have a flare-up of eczema or an autoimmune disease it’s also a sign that stress is taking hold of your body. When you’re stressed your immune system is usually lowered. As such you probably will catch colds or the flu more often than usual. This is even more common in caregivers that don’t take care of themselves. And caregivers are so who are stressed usually do not take good care of themselves.

13.Teeth Grinding or TMJ

Is your spouse is complaining that you’re constantly grinding your teeth at night and they can’t get a good night sleep? If so, you need to address your stress issue. Grinding teeth and TMJ problems are often caused by stress. As you lay in bed sleeping your subconscious is worrying about all of the problems that you’re dealing with.

Are you stressed? Follow our blog and our  Facebook Page to learn ways to deal with caregiver stress, more about dementia and just about anything that may help you as you travel the journey of a caregiver.

Author- Kathryn Watson

Also, Read- What Is Dementia?

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