Caregiver stress is caused by the physical and emotional challenges involved in being a caregiver. Caregivers typically have more stress in their lives than people who aren’t taking care of someone else. Being a caregiver can take up a great deal of your time, leaving you with little time for family, friends, enjoyable activities, or even work. When you suffer from caregiver stress, it can negatively affect your health.
Below are 5 health concerns you should watch for if you’re a caregiver.
#1: Getting Sick Often
Caregivers sometimes have weakened immune systems because they don’t have the time to take care of themselves. They may not eat well or exercise, which can impact their body’s ability to fight off illness and infection. This can cause you to catch every cold or flu that comes around, leaving you ill more often than you should be.
#2: Mental Health Issues
The stress of being a caregiver can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. You may find yourself worrying all the time or feeling sad most days. If you have signs of depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, it’s important to see your doctor. Treatment is available and can help you to feel better.
#3: Weight Gain
It’s not unusual for caregivers to put on weight because of their emotions and responsibilities. You might find yourself eating to bring comfort. Or, you might reach for calorie-laden fast foods to save yourself the time of preparing a healthy meal. Obesity is a risk factor for all sorts of serious conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
#4: Sleep Problems
Caregiver stress can interfere with your sleep and leave you feeling fatigued. You may not get many hours of sleep because you’re too busy getting everything done. Or, if you spend the overnight hours with your aging relative, you may have to get up every time they do. You may also have trouble getting to sleep because you lie in bed worrying about your aging relative and going over your perceived failures.
#5: Substance Abuse
Unfortunately, many caregivers find themselves relying more heavily on drugs or alcohol to relieve their negative feelings. That glass of wine you enjoy before bed might turn into multiple glasses. Or, you might use painkillers or sleep aids improperly. Some caregivers may even turn to illegal substances. If you find yourself using drugs or alcohol to feel better, seek help from a medical professional.
Finding respite care for your senior can be a great way for you to alleviate some of the stress and give you a chance to take a break. Call a home care service provider close to you today to see how they can help.