Do you have Caregiver Syndrome?
One in 5 people are a caregiver for a loved one or approximately 48 million people in the United States. So, it’s likely you are, have been or know someone that is a caregiver. Caregiver Syndrome can be dangerous and even deadly. 70% of all caregivers over the age of 70yrs die first. The chronic stress of caregiving can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and a compromised immune system. When chronic stress is prolonged, it elevates stress hormones that circulate in the body which can be equivalent to someone with PTSD.
“Caregivers are so immersed in their role they neglect their own care” according to Peter Vitalino Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at University of Washington.
Caregivers put the needs of their patient/loved one ahead of their own physical, emotion and spiritual needs leaving them drained and without any reserves. Caregivers between the ages of 66 and 96 have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age
When caregiving for a loved one the dynamics of their relationship changes from spouse, partners, parent, child and or friends to that of nurse to patient. Grieving the loss of that relationship is normal. But in this emotional and physical state, it can be difficult to provide high quality care for your loved one.
Symptoms to watch for;
Depression, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, hopeless
Anxiety, on edge, can’t relax, constant worrying
Anger, being short tempered and irritable
Exhaustion that is not relieved by a good night’s sleep
Repeatedly getting colds, flu’s never quite feeling good.
What can you do to avoid caregiver syndrome?
Immediately take a break, ask family and friends for help
Find local resources in the community such as meal delivery, housekeeping services, in home care
Respite care in Assisted Livings
Take time to take care of your care needs. Make and keep your Doctor, Dentist, eye exam appointments
Spend time with friends and also have alone down time; go out for meals, take walks, read a book, and most importantly don’t isolate
Find somewhere to partner with in a long term care solution such as Assisted Living, Memory Care and or Adult Family Home
Reach out to Senior Housing Specialists, a free service to help you find the right solutions and resources available to you!
Just as it is not possible to work every single waking second without becoming very ill, it is not realistic to provide care for someone 24hrs/7 days a week. It takes a village when caring for an aging and ill loved one. Caregivers need to have partners and teams in place when caring for loved one’s long term.