Although it’s highly gratifying, serving as a family caregiver can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Adding numerous holiday activities to an already full plate can push even the most seasoned caregiver to the breaking point. Thankfully, there are several reliable ways to keep caregiver stress from putting a damper on your holiday festivities this year –starting with those that follow.
Caregiver Stress Warning Signs
Regardless of their training and experience, most informal caregivers eventually reach a point when they feel overworked, overtired, and overstressed. Exhaustion, worry, inadequate resources, and strained relationships can be a caregiver’s constant companions.
The average caregiver is more likely to develop a chronic health condition, like elevated blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes than a non-caregiver. Caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming any time of year – most notably during the holidays.
Caregiver stress typically presents with these signs:
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty performing simple tasks, like decorating the tree or wrapping gifts
- Weight gain
- Postponing or completely ignoring medical appointments
- Substance abuse
- Not exercising
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of interest in holiday traditions or activities
- Social isolation
Ignoring these symptoms won’t make them go away. If allowed to persist, caregiver stress could morph into full-blown caregiver burnout when least expected.
Self-Care Tips for Stressed Caregivers
Here’s how to treat yourself to the gift of self-care this holiday season:
Set realistic goals
Although it’s not easy to accept, no matter how hard you try your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones— like getting Mom to help you decorate the tree. After all, you’re only human, and even Santa takes vacations!
Make healthy lifestyle choices
If you’re sick in bed (again) because you’re not taking care of yourself, start making some positive lifestyle changes. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid unhealthy habits like using tobacco or drinking alcohol to excess. Get a complete physical every year and don’t neglect your other medical appointments.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy. Use your newfound downtime to learn a new hobby, buy some clothes, or just spend a few hours curled up on the couch binge-watching your favorite holiday movies. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for taking a break from your caregiving duties.
Start a caregiving journal
Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences that you are going through— like the fact you were able to get Mom to eat everything on her plate today. When you’re having a bad day, go back and revisit the good moments and focus on how your efforts are making a difference.
Make time for yourself
Find time to participate in healthy stress-relieving activities like walking, swimming, Yoga, or Tai Chi three to five times per week. Treat yourself at least once a month to a spa day or lunch with dear friends. Seek professional counseling if negative feelings like guilt, anxiety, and depression persist.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help doesn’t make you a Grinch or Scrooge. To prevent burnout, seek relief through community volunteers, family, friends, adult day care, or senior transportation service. Another option you have is hiring a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care provider.
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Families in Cape Coral
When you need to take a well-deserved break, contact Home Instead. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider in North Fort Myers and Cape Coral with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform home care services like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit us online now to learn more about our in-home care services or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in North Fort Myers and Cape Coral.