Caregiving for an older individual or loved one can be a difficult, yet rewarding role; unfortunately, caregiving can lead to a number of different problems, including depression. Caregiver stress is one of the most difficult problems that those caring for an aging loved one can deal with.
Caregiver stress is due to the emotional and physical strain that is caused by caregiving. In general, caregivers report higher levels of stress than people who are not caregivers. Some of the common signs of caregiver stress includes feeling overwhelmed, isolated, fluctuation in weight, headaches and body aches, sadness, and more.
Along with caregiver stress, isolation is one of the common problems that a caregiver can deal with. Caregiving can be lonely, especially if the one that you are caring for can’t be left alone often or has movement-related problems that make it difficult for them to leave the house.
In general, caregiver depression is one of the causes of the many symptoms associated with caregiver stress. Caregiving is a physically and emotionally stressful task and many caregivers prioritize their loved ones over their own personal health. Unfortunately, this can lead to many problematic situations and scenarios in which the caregiver is putting their loved one at risk because of their inability to care for themselves.
Putting your loved one’s needs before your own, while admirable, can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, guilt, and isolation. All of these symptoms can trigger caregiver depression.
Everybody has bad days sometimes, this is not what depression is despite what some people think. Depression is a persistent and consistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest. During an episode or period of depression, caregivers will experience a number of different symptoms the occur most of the day, nearly every day.
Some of the common symptoms associated with depression include:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities or hobbies
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite
- Slowed thinking
Unfortunately, depression can become more severe and even life-threatening as it may lead to thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
Many caregivers can experience bouts of stress, isolation, and depression, however, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your situation and prevent these problems from taking over your life or even occurring in the first place.
Get Help — It is important not to wait too long to get the help you need. You don’t want to wait until you are already feeling overwhelmed or isolated before you reach out to ask for help caring for a loved one. If possible, you can ask your family and close friends involved to help plan and provide care. It is also possible to seek out respite care services and a support group. Reaching out to these types of aids can help to keep you from feeling isolated or depressed.
Socialize — As mentioned before, caregiving can take up a lot of your time and cause you to take time away from social events and being with friends or other family. It is important that you maintain personal relationships even when you are working as a caregiver. Keeping relationships with loved ones and friends can help give you strength and hope to deal with some of the symptoms associated with caregiver stress.
Use a Journal — Using a journal and keeping a log of your mood and behaviors can allow you to express emotions that you may feel are bottled up, such as pain, anger, fear, and others. This will provide an outlet and allow you to let go of some problems that may persist.
Take Personal Time — Participating in activities and hobbies can help you relax and have fun. Taking advantage of respite care can give you the time to do these things. Activities like going to the movies, a sports game, and more can all help to improve mood and outlook. Regular physical activity and meditation can go a long way toward dealing with stress as well. You also don’t need to always take time off to get some personal time, reading a book or listening to music before bed are both great ways to help you calm down and recharge before the next day.
Be Positive — Positive thinking is a great way to help keep you going. Thinking positive doesn’t mean ignoring problems that you may have, it means approaching unpleasant or problematic situations in positive and productive ways. Speaking positively can help improve confidence, health, and quality of life. One way that you can improve positivity is to keep track of positive and negative thoughts throughout the day and intentionally reach to improve positive thoughts that you feel. Placing positive or inspirational remarks where you will see them, like on a mirror or computer can also help. Also, remember what you are doing and how it is helping, it can provide meaning and help to improve your mood overall.
Caregiving can be one of the most stressful and rewarding jobs. While the basis of the job is to care for someone else, you also need to be aware of your own health and realize if there are any problems. If you are suffering from some type of health issue, like depression, it can negatively impact your ability to care for your loved one. Caregiving can be an incredibly difficult task, and in some cases, and can turn out to be too much. If a senior requires too much care, it may be best to look at other options for ways to help them.
Landmark Senior Living is one organization that can help if your loved one is dealing with age-related problems. Landmark can offer your loved one many services and types of care to help them at this stage in their life. Memory care is one of the many options we offer, this type of care will help a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you are interested in learning more about what senior living communities in Fall River can offer, please visit our website.