Providing daily living assistance to an aging in place loved one is highly rewarding, but it’s also sometimes tiring and frustrating. Caregiver stress is common, or even a clinical condition known as “caregiver burnout”, which can lead to strained relationships with coworkers and close family members.

Stressed-out caregivers oftentimes resort to unhealthy behaviors which can further place their health and wellbeing at risk. To help ensure that doesn’t happen, here are several positive ways to relieve caregiver stress.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Unfortunately, many family caregivers don’t take time to care for themselves. It’s easy to get frustrated when mom or dad’s health just keeps deteriorating no matter how hard you try. Here are some warning signs of caregiving stress:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Back, shoulder or neck pain, muscle tension
  • Stomach/digestive problems
  • Hair loss
  • Chest pain
  • A weakened immune system
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Skin disorders like hives, eczema, psoriasis, and itching
  • Sexual dysfunction, lack of libido

Unhealthy Behaviors that Caregivers Engage In

In order to keep juggling a household, job and caregiving responsibilities, overly-stressed caregivers oftentimes engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as:

  • Not sleeping enough
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor eating habits
  • Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
  • Neglecting relationships with their spouse, kids, or friends
  • Avoiding activities they once enjoyed
  • Postponing doctor appointments when they are feeling sick

Continuously engaging in these harmful behaviors creates a vicious cycle that can cause depression, guilt and permanently damage a caregiver’s interpersonal relationships, including the one with the very family member they’re providing care to.

Positive Stress Relievers for Caregivers

Fortunately, there are several positive ways for caregivers to effectively manage the stress they’re feeling, starting with these:

Get Plenty of Rest

The human body was designed to function optimally on 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day.

Exercise

Exercising on a regular basis not only is a great stress-reducer, but it also strengthens muscles and increases flexibility to withstand the physical rigors that caregiving requires. Yoga, Tai Chi, Walking, aerobics and swimming are all great forms of exercise that will also cleanse the mind and induce restful sleep.

Relaxation Techniques

WebMD (www.webmd.com) identifies several relaxation techniques that caregivers can use to release pent-up stress, including deep breathing, mind relaxation, biofeedback, and guided imagery.

Eat Better

You’re not doing your loved one any favors if your body’s not getting the daily nutrients it needs. Replace fast foods and highly-processed foods with nutritious ones from the 4 essential food groups. Eating healthier helps you ward off illnesses and boosts your energy level.

Focus on Small Victories

No matter how hard you try, the aging process is still going to affect your loved one’s body and mind. Stay positive by focusing on the small victories that you’re able to achieve, like fixing mom her favorite dish or taking her to the park on a sunny day. Continue to concentrate on the many benefits your caregiving efforts are providing to support her at-home independence.

Join a Caregiver Support Group

There are caregiver support groups in your community where you can share openly with others who are going through the same experiences you are, and where you can also learn some new caregiving techniques. Caregiver groups are also great at providing much-needed emotional support.

Schedule Some “Me Time”

Take a weekend getaway with your family or friends to get recharged, or just enjoy a quiet date night with your spouse.

Recruit Family Members

When you’re starting to feel stressed, take a break by asking your siblings or other family members to step in for a few days or weeks.

Get an Annual Checkup

See your doctor on a yearly basis for a complete physical to make sure your body and mind are healthy.

Hire a Respite Caregiver

When the daily grind of caregiving starts wearing you down, you can also temporarily hire a trained professional caregiver through a licensed home care agency.

Find Professional Respite Care for Alabama Seniors Here

Taking care of an aging in place elderly loved one is very rewarding, but it can oftentimes be time-consuming and stressful. When you need some “me time”, call Seniors Prefer Homecare. Our highly-trained and carefully-screened respite caregivers will serve as an extended family in your senior’s home, while providing them with the comforting care they deserve to stay right where they want to be.

Available as little or as often as you need them, our experienced aides can perform in-home duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation and companionship; all delivered within an affordable package to give you peace-of-mind. To schedule a FREE in-home care assessment with Seniors Prefer Homecare, or to learn more about our family trusted hom