Harriet has been a caregiver to her husband for more than 18 years, and she knows how demanding the role of caregiver can be. Here are reasons she finds caregiving so stressful.
Caregiving is often lonely and overwhelming. Caregiving is usually a solo act. And more often than not, family caregivers find themselves in charge of not only overseeing and providing care for a loved one, but also taking on things like household chores, grocery shopping, and running errands.
“With help, you can accomplish daily tasks. Without help, you fall behind, and this generates stress.”
Finances – or lack thereof – are hugely stressful. Many family caregivers are unpaid for the services they perform for their loved one, so income is often very limited. Harriet admits she worries about money constantly and feels she’s not alone in asking the question “What will happen to us when our money runs out?” Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic fix for this situation.
“About the only thing we can do is monitor the budget, cut back on expenses, and hope things turn out for the best.”
Medical Tests and therapy can produce both anxiety and stress. Caregivers usually find themselves taking loved ones to medical appointments and therapy on a regular basis. Medical tests themselves are stressful. “Waiting for the results of medical tests can be nerve-wracking,” says Harriet. In addition, trips to physical/occupational therapy can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Not all grief happens after a loss. Sometimes grief can happen before an event. This is called anticipatory grief, and typically manifests itself as stress and anxiety before the impending death of a loved one. Oftentimes, the only end to a caregiving “career” is when the person being cared for dies; therefore, many caregivers experience this type of grief.
Stress isn’t something that will ever really dissipate for caregivers. She suggests keeping your sense of humor intact and giving yourself a short break from caregiving as ways to help ease the stress of this demanding role.
”We have to be kind to ourselves when we’re stressed."
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