Caring for a loved one who is no longer able to self-care can be quite challenging. Not only is it difficult to plan logistically, especially if a loved one or family member has a severe disability, it can also be emotionally and psychologically draining for caregivers. This can be true for those who are professional caregivers as well. The resulting stress from caregiving is a significant concern and should not be ignored.

How does caregiving cause stress?

Caregiving can be overwhelming for people, causing many to experience significant stress that affects their happiness and quality of life. Many who are caring for family members may have little to no training in fulfilling a loved one’s complex needs. In some cases, the caregiver may have to also work a job or have children to take care of as well. Committing all of one’s time and energy to caregiving while also balancing other life needs commonly results in lack of self-care which ultimately coalesces in unhealthy chronic stress. 

Health issues caused by caregiver stress

Consistently stressful experiences can cause significant health issues for caregivers. These health issues can be physical, psychological and cognitive. Caregivers should be aware of these potential health problems in order to take preventative measures if possible.

Some of the physical issues caused by continuous stress include a weakening of the immune system. Stress may even cause you to gain excess weight, resulting in obesity. More serious diseases may also be related to stress. These can include cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Caregivers experiencing chronic stress can also suffer from psychological issues you should be conscious of. Many caregivers end up suffering from depression as a result of experiencing constant stressful situations. It is also common to experience anxiety when functioning as a caregiver.

You may develop cognitive problems caused by chronic stress from providing care to a loved one. Caregivers may find themselves experiencing difficulties with their short-term memory. Also, many will find it more challenging to concentrate on tasks as a result of experiencing chronic stress via their caregiving endeavors.

How can caregivers deal with stress?

There are various things you can do in order to prevent or alleviate stress related to being a caregiver. One of the first things you can do is to be as organized as possible through strategies such as making to-do lists and maintaining a regular routine of daily activities. You can also ask for help from others, such as family and friends. There may be a local support group for caregivers that can provide you logistical as well as emotional support.

Also, be sure to take care of your own health. One key way to do this is to maintain a consistent exercise routine. Eating healthy and making sure you sleep adequately can be quite helpful. Additionally, stay up-to-date with regular doctor visits for routine screenings and checkups.

Financial concerns

It is common for caregivers to be financially connected in some way to those they are caring for. This could mean adult children caring for their elderly parents who may want them to eventually inherit their estate. You could also be caring for a family member who is financially dependent on you to a certain degree. In either case you will want to make sure to not neglect personal budgeting as well as making sure a proper estate plan is in place for you and your loved one.