Many who have found themselves in caregiver positions are faced with increased physical demands, financial strain, time limitations, and mental fatigue related to the constant rollercoaster of situations that arise when you are responsible for the care of another person. Many tell me that they never expected to be in this situation.
If we’ve all been reminded of nothing else this past year it is that life is full of the unexpected. Some will be faced with the task to care for a loved one who has developed a terminal illness or left disabled after a stroke or accident.
For others, it may be caring for a parent who is aging and declining in ability or a child who has transitioned to adulthood and requires a substantial amount of care due to some sort of illness. Caregivers tend to put the needs of others before themselves and are so focused on their loved ones that fail to see the physical and mental toll that the caregiver role is taking on them. Caregiver fatigue is very similar to depression.
Caregiver fatigue symptoms
- Low or irritable mood
- Decreased interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
- Changes in sleep
- Fatigue, both emotionally and physically
- Impaired concentration and memory
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or the person being cared for
- Isolating from family and friends
- Weakened immune system leading to more acute illnesses such as colds and flu
- Increased use of substances such as alcohol or sleep aids
Many will ignore these symptoms because they are so overwhelmed, they can’t really see a way out of what they are feeling. In these instances, I encourage my patients to lean on controlling the things that they can control.
While they can’t change their loved one’s needs, maybe they can address their needs in a way that takes the edge off a little.
CHECK THIS TOO: The Caregiver’s Survival Guide
Ask For Help
I know that this is so hard to do but if help is available, ask. Being a caregiver should always be done by committee if possible because the burden is often too much for one person to realistically handle.
Oftentimes strained family relationships, pride, or worries of being a burden to others interferes with asking for help.
Even asking for a small favor can go a long way. Having someone sit with your loved one while you go to therapy or to dinner with a friend can be a great way to provide a much-needed break.
Set Realistic Expectations
Taking on too much individually is unrealistic and not sustainable. Eventually, you will reach a level of