Most family caregivers are amazing people that devote their lives to caring for aging in place elderly loved ones. But caregiving can also be very stressful and exhausting, especially when you throw in a traumatic event like the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only does an experience like that affect you as a caregiver, it also places additional stress on the one you’re caring for. As a result, you both need to find healthy ways to lower your stress levels. What follows are several good ways for you and your loved one to decompress.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Our bodies were designed to deal with stress in small doses. When you are constantly feeling stressed out due to something like the coronavirus pandemic, it causes long-term physiological changes to your body that can lead to exhaustion and even full-blown burnout.
According to WebMD, these are some classic signs of caregiver burnout:
- Constantly feeling irritable
- Worry and anxiety
- Social isolation
- Increasing unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drinking
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling run down all the time
- Physical problems like headaches, nausea or frequent illnesses
Once you or your loved one start experiencing these symptoms, it’s going to create a more uncomfortable environment in the home that will continue to feed the stress cycle.
Developing a Good Stress Relief Strategy
Fortunately, there are several “stress relievers” you can use to ensure a happier, healthier relationship during the time that you’re together, such as:
Set Healthy Boundaries
Negative emotions can sometimes surface when the needs of the care recipient don’t have set boundaries. Those negativities then carry over into all aspects of the caregiver’s life, leading to more stress and feelings of resentment. Sit down together, discuss some realistic expectations and then establish healthy boundaries so that both of you will feel better in the end.
Find Your “Relaxation Mode”
The opposite of being stressed is feeling relaxed, so effective stress management starts with finding ways to get into your “relaxation mode”. Physiological benefits derived from relaxing include a reduction in your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. So, find healthy, relaxing activities that you can do together, like Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, deep breathing exercises or walking. Just be sure that your senior has been cleared for aerobic activities first by their doctor.
Try New Activities
Sometimes relieving pent-up stress is as easy as changing around your daily routine. Get the both of you to stop worrying by trying some fun activities together like hobbies, gardening, crafts, cooking or maybe even some dancing. Or, pull out that box of old family photos and create a scrapbook of memories while sharing some laughs. If your loved one has dementia, be sure to proceed with caution so that trying too many new activities at once doesn’t throw them out of their comfort zone.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
While you’re asleep your body’s stress hormone level goes down. Getting enough sleep also allows your body to carry out tissue repair and helps build a stronger immune system. So, create an optimal sleeping environment for you both, whether you live in the same house or not. If necessary, cover the windows with blackout curtains and keep electronic stimulation to a minimum. Also avoid large meals and caffeine right before bedtime.
Get Outside Support
Another step you can take to reduce stress in the household is getting some outside support to lighten your caregiving load and mix up the routine. That could be in the form of a meal delivery service, family member, senior transportation service, or even a professional caregiver from a trustworthy home care agency.
Your Effective Stress Relief Source for Caregivers & Seniors
Sometimes reducing the stress level in a home is as easy as taking some time apart for a little while. If that sounds like a plan, contact First in Care Home Health Agency. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our well-trained and carefully screened respite caregivers can provide the temporary relief you need until things settle down. Our goal is serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home so they can continue aging safely and comfortably in place right where they want to be.
Our family trusted in-home respite care services include light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our reliable amenities can be individually combined into an affordable package based on your budget! To learn more about First in Care today, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.