Acknowledge challenges and emotions
Recognizing how you came to the role of caregiver can be the first step in overcoming caregiver stress. When it hasn’t been by choice, anger, impatience and resentment can set in. Often, the fairness of the situation is in question. These are all common thoughts and feelings that caregivers can experience. How did you get put into the caregiver role? Was it your choice, a perceived obligation, an attachment to the person, a sense of responsibility, a lack of formal supports, or all of the above? Caring for an older adult with dementia can be particularly difficult, time consuming and frustrating. Caregiver stress can be caused by a number of factors, such as:
• The behaviour and attitude of the person you are caring for
• The physical and emotional components of care
• Adjusting to working and caregiving
• Changes in social activities and normal schedules
• Financial costs and difficulties
• Adjustments to caregiving within the family
• Changes in relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, people in your community and so on.
Respite care for caregivers
If you can recognize these factors early on and identify what is causing your stress then you may be able to take steps to relieve them and enhance your ability to manage, both personally and through respite care options, and to avoid burnout. Options for respite care might include support groups and homecare services, and assistance from family. While it’s easy to get too busy to recognize when stress is setting in, there are noticeable changes in our behaviour and mental health that are sure signals you might be living with too much stress. Check the warning signs (see sidebar below) and deal with them early by asking for help.
Reprinted with permission from CHATS: Community & Home Assistance to Seniors.