Coping With the Stress and Emotional Overwhelm of Caring for Aging Relatives

There comes a day for every adult when the very people that took care of them, now need assistance. While some are able to utilize resources like nursing homes and full-time home health aids, others end up moving their aging relatives into their homes. The demands that being a full-time caregiver (especially if you have a family of your own) can create a great deal of stress. As a result, many caregivers end up sacrificing their own health and wellbeing.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

The stress of trying to balance your family, the needs of your aging relatives, work, and your own needs can become so overwhelming that caregivers lose sleep, make poor eating choices, and lack the time necessary to provide self-care. How do you know if you could be suffering from caregiver stress? Consider these symptoms below:

  • Extreme feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Isolation from friends, family, and activities you once enjoyed.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Short-tempered. Quick to anger.
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weight gain or loss depending on your eating habits
  • Difficulty getting to sleep (or sleeping too much if you suffer from depression or extreme exhaustion).
  • Substance abuse or self-medicating
  • Weakened immune system
  • Body aches and pains

If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above, you’re struggling with caregiver stress. The first thing you should do is get help. Reach out to your doctor to find out what needs to be done to treat medical conditions. Consult with a therapist to sort through your emotions. If necessary, look for qualified drug detox programs to quit substance abuse.


Controlling Caregiver Stress

What can you do to prevent yourself from getting overly stressed as a caregiver to your elderly loved ones? Here are some suggestions:

  • Realize You’re Only Human – You are only one person and cannot possibly be there for your children, significant other, aging relatives, employer, and yourself at the same time. You’re not perfect and so there are going to be some things you can’t control. Let it go.
  • Take Time to Yourself – Though you have a lot on your plate you cannot allow that to take you away from things that bring you peace and happiness. Schedule time to do things you like whether it’s going to your favorite park with a good book and snacks or spending a night out with your girlfriends, your happiness must remain a priority.
  • Practice Self-Care – Stress is always heightened when your physical and mental health is not up to par. So, to combat the stress, take care of yourself. Eat three healthy meals a day, stay hydrated with plenty of water, get active, and make arrangements so you can get adequate sleep.
  • Get Organized – So, the dynamics of your household have changed. That means it’s time to create new routines and methods of organization to reduce the stress. Make a morning and evening routine for you and your family to follow. Use calendars and time management apps to keep on top of appointments, activities, and special events. Getting organized isn’t just about your routines and schedules either. Organize your home in a manner that is safe and convenient for your aging relatives while still functional for the rest of your family. Declutter, create a space for your aging parents to spend most of their time, use storage containers and labels to create neatness and organization, etc.
  • Learn Stress-Relief Methods – Your life will not be without stress, but knowing how to cope with it in a healthy manner is key to your wellbeing. There are a lot of ways to relieve stress. You can get a massage, meditate, take a bath or warm shower, read a book, go for a run, treat yourself to lunch, buy something nice, or go do something you enjoy.

When you’re caring for multiple generations under one roof, the demands of it all can push you to the edge. In order to maintain your sanity and ensure that you can be there to care for your aging relatives and your family, you must prioritize your health. Use the above-mentioned advice to ward off caregiver stress and live a happier, healthier life.

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