Learn to overcome caregiver stress with a few simple tips.
Providing care for a senior you love is such a selfless endeavor. It’s incredibly rewarding to know you’re helping make life the best it can be, but it can also be incredibly stressful. It’s important to find ways to release caregiver stress in order to support your own wellbeing. Caregiver stress can arise for a variety of reasons:
- The senior struggles with chronic health concerns
- There are cognitive deficiencies, such as occur in dementia
- A caregiver is dealing with the frustration of being unable to “make things better”
- The caregiver is stretched too thin and unable to take time for self-care
- And more
It’s crucial for family caregivers to prioritize regular, ongoing time away to reduce stress and make sure their own needs are met; but finding time to do so isn’t always easy.
At Nightingale Homecare, our aging care team is familiar with the stress family caregivers are facing. We’re here to help not just the seniors in our care, but the families who care for them. We want you to remain in the best possible health too! These recommendations can help you replace stress with peace, and achieve a healthier life balance:
- Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing is an excellent tactic to instantly instill a sense of calm. Simply sit down in a comfortable position, breathe in through your nose while silently counting to five, and then breathe out through your nose, again for a count of five. Repeat until you feel more at peace. You can also work towards increasing the length of time of your breathing for up to a count of ten.
- Practice intentional thinking. It’s easy to focus on the problems you are facing and to forget about the many positives that are occurring around us each day. Take time for a mental inventory of what you’re thankful for. This can help shift your perspective, even if what comes to mind seems small, such as a moment when your loved one smiled at you, the scent of the cake you’re baking, or the spring flowers beginning to peek up in the front yard.
- Practice self-appreciation. The work you’re doing is so important. You are making a real and lasting difference in the life of someone else. Instead of reminding yourself of the mistakes you’re making along the way, acknowledge the things you’re doing right! Just as you would share your appreciation with a friend who did something kind, appreciate your own kindnesses as well.
- Practice getting physical. Exercise produces endorphins that naturally provide a boost to your mental outlook and wellbeing. It may be hard to find time for an extensive workout, but breaking your exercise time up into smaller chunks throughout the day is still beneficial. Try choosing parking spaces that are farther from store entrances, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and hop onto a stationary bike to peddle away while talking with the senior in your care.
- Practice partnering. Remind yourself that caregiving isn’t meant to be a solo responsibility. Partnering with a trusted home care provider, like Nightingale Homecare, is good for both you and your loved one. Our respite care services enable caregivers to have regular time away, and seniors enjoy socialization with a friendly, trained, and compassionate companion.
Contact Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, for a free in-home consultation. We’re always here to offer the resources you need to release caregiver stress and to enhance quality of life for older adults in the comfort of home.
For those individuals who have not experienced living with and caring for a loved one with dementia, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the time, care, commitment and strain it entails. Those caregivers who have reached out for support describe the conversations with well-meaning family and friends as often minimizing the condition, referring to it as simple “memory loss”, and that more “patience” is required to manage the loved one.
In reality, there’s much, much more involved in providing dementia care. Often, the person suffering from dementia exhibits not just simple memory loss, but delusions, irrational outbursts, incoherent communication, hoarding, pacing, paranoia, incontinence, difficulty swallowing or eating, wandering, insomnia, and combativeness; and the emotional, physical and financial toll this takes on the caregiver can be debilitating.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 70% of the four million Americans with dementia are cared for at home by a family caregiver (or caregivers), and the impact on those caregivers can be immense. Depression and other health issues related to stress and anxiety are often experienced. According to a recent study of over five thousand family caregivers, over one third reported six or more symptoms of depression.
The professionals at Nightingale Homecare believe that all those providing dementia care in Phoenix should be educated and on the alert for caregiver stress and depression, and no one should feel alone in attempting to provide assistance to those individuals. Struggling caregivers can find support and relief at many different levels. Some starting points include:
- Counseling and Support Groups: Local support groups and individual counseling with a qualified therapist can be a great beginning to help the caregiver with stress reduction. Support groups can provide understanding and an endless stream of helpful tips, information and community resources for all caregivers dealing with the challenging behaviors of dementia. For information on community support groups and counseling contact Phoenix’s local Alzheimer’s Association.
- Financial Planning Professionals and Legal Advice: It’s imperative to have a power of attorney for health care and financial decisions in place while the person with dementia is in the very early stages and still able to think clearly. The Financial Planning Association can assist families in finding local accredited financial planners. The Elder Care Locator is also an exceptional resource for professional legal assistance.
- Respite Services with Day Care and/or Homecare: For those families that have planned for and can afford long term home care, a multitude of options exist. Finding the right home care support for you and your loved one, is another topic entirely. Nightingale Homecare is an Arizona based home care solution, providing numerous options for families seeking any level of help, from occasional respite care, to intermittent home health visits by a registered nurse, nursing assistant, occupational therapist, or physical therapist, to 24-7 home care support.
Understanding and preparing for a condition like Alzheimer’s and dementia with an open conversation involving supportive family, friends, and health professionals paves the way for long-term support, life and care planning with improved quality of life for all involved. You can rely on Nightingale Homecare as your expert source of support for dementia care in Phoenix during your loved one’s diagnosis, care and progression. Our Caregiver Burden Scale can also help you evaluate your wellbeing as a caregiver and when the time is right to get help. Call us any time at 602-504-1555 or contact us online.
If you’re a family caregiver, the following typical schedule may very well ring true:
You wake up well before the crack of dawn to accomplish a few hurried tasks of your own before your senior loved one rises. You then switch quickly into care mode: assisting with moving around, going to the bathroom, and personal care. You prepare a healthy breakfast, get morning medications together, maybe eat a quick bite yourself before storming forward into the many needs vying for your attention throughout the day. Perhaps you find a few quiet moments to yourself after getting your loved one settled into bed, before collapsing and doing it all again the next day.
We at Nightingale Homecare want you, the family caregiver, to know that you’re our hero! Your selfless devotion to caring for your loved one may feel as though it goes unnoticed, but we understand, and we salute you! We’d like to encourage you with the following resolution ideas to help reduce your stress in the coming year:
- Take time for self-appreciation – You may not hear “thank you” as often as it’s deserved, so remind yourself each day of the important difference you’re making in the life of your loved one.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for (and accept) help – Family and friends very likely want to lend a hand, but are unsure exactly what’s needed. It’s okay to tell others what you need, especially when they ask how they can help.
- Care for yourself as well as your loved one – Far from selfish, meeting your own needs allows you to best meet the needs of your loved one. Be sure to stay on top of your physical, emotional and spiritual health, getting yourself to regular check-ups and appointments.
- Practice continuous learning – Stay up to date on the latest research and suggestions related to the specific conditions of aging affecting your loved one. Over time, this will help you become better able to ask questions and notice nuances in their state of being.
- Stay balanced – Resolve to maintain a healthy balance between caring for your loved one and other family, work, and volunteer commitments. This is likely the hardest tip to follow, as it’s easy to feel like you’re never doing enough. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can.
If even these simple resolutions seem too overwhelming to tackle, know that we’re standing beside you to help provide compassionate care for your senior loved one, allowing you much needed respite to care for and rejuvenate yourself!
Our supportive Arizona home care is uniquely individualized to each client’s needs, including as many or as few services, for as long or as little as you desire. We begin with a full assessment, provided at no charge by one of our registered nurses, to create a plan of care and to get to know your loved one’s likes and dislikes.
We then custom-match the perfect caregiver who shares similar personality traits and interests, resulting in a caregiver-senior bond that can give you the peace of mind needed to relax, take a breather, and renew your strength.
Serving all of Maricopa County, we’re the Phoenix area’s top provider of in-home senior care, with over 20 years of experience, founded, owned and operated by registered nurses. Resolve to partner with us in 2016 by calling 602-504-1555, and discover an enhanced quality of life for your senior loved one – and, for yourself!