Caregiver Stress – Are You Ignoring The Signs?


By Regina Posvar

CAREGIVER Stress Quiz: Score each item as: 1 (never); 2 (once or twice); 3 (rarely); 4 (sometimes); 5 (often); 6 (usually), 7 (always)

Ask yourself if you feel…

• Resentful
• Trapped
• Tired (not getting enough sleep)
• Weary
• Helpless
• Poor appetite or overeating
• Physically exhausted
• Useless
• Disillusioned
• Drained of feeling
• Burnt out
• Unhappy
• Anxious
• Rejected

What is your score? _________
A score under 60 is generally safe. AARP’s quick caregiver stress test (above), stated that most of us are in a habit of tricking ourselves into thinking we are less stressed than we really are. Caregiver stress is a serious issue and can have a serious negative impact on you. Having a way to measure this can help you check yourself and seek the self care that you need. Use this tool to keep track, that way you can catch the progression of increased stress and do something about it. If your score is at max you really need to own this stress and do some self needed care and make it a priority. To learn more on this quiz go to… http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/homeCare/managing_the_stress_quiz.html

To be a good caregiver you should take the same approach as you are instructed on an airline craft ~ which is to put the breathing mask on yourself first before helping the person next to you. I say caregivers are Angels, as you are a light to the one you are caring for. Remember that you are a human Angel who needs nurturing too.

Q: Dear Regina, when everyone talks about stress it makes me feel like they are telling me to leave my mom because I cannot take on the care. If I leave or let it go no one will care for her. I am not so sure how to deal with this as I do notice I am so tired and sometimes very irritable. I love my mom and it is hard to do this every day. I do care about my health. Can you provide a few tips to sneak in for caregivers who do 24 hour care?

A: Abandoning your mom will not help nor is it the answer to help stress. I wish that you could get some respite care relief so you can have a break. There has to be a family or dear friend who can give you at least one hour break every week. What about the church you are with or any church member in your area? I know of a church group on another Island that has raised money to train caregivers to give care to their geriatric community. This is a thought for some readers to be empowered.

To help you now

• Change how you talk to yourself. When you hear yourself saying negative things or thoughts say out loud “stop.” Hearing yourself say “stop” a number times is powerful in recognizing that you have bad self thoughts. Research has shown that if you talk to yourself as if you were giving a friend advice you are kinder. So say your own name. For example instead of saying “This is impossible! I cannot help mom with those types of exercise,” say “Regina, how can you learn this? Let’s get that nurse or therapist to show you how to do it.” Turning it into a question and challenge as if it was a friend you were telling has remarkable results in changing a stressful thought into possibilities. Changing your thinking about the situation will eliminate a lot of stress.

• Getting help when you need it. Sometimes family and friends are scared or just do not know what to do. Ask them over for lunch and ask them to help you prepare and try to hydrate your loved one. Slowly do things with them and your loved one as they will learn what to do. And they will help.

• Short breaks. If you can leave your loved one alone for 5-10 minutes you can do a relaxation meditation, breathing exercise, drink extra water; cross over warm up exercise can really increase your energy and give you that needed break. Also a 10 minute power nap does wonders. If you cannot leave them alone, schedule someone to sit with your loved one who is familiar with the routine.

These are just a few things to help you get started in taking care of you. Be the Best You.
Quote: We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
— Frederick Koenig
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