My name is Sandi and I am honored to be Hunter’s very first guest blogger! Actually, this is nepotism at its finest, as I am also Hunter’s mom. Additionally, I am Hunter’s primary fulltime caregiver, assisted by a small team of part time caregivers.
When Hunter came up with the idea of adding “Caregiver Corner” to the Come Roll With Me blog, I was thrilled. Many families are in the same situation as ours. The growing number of families affected by aging parents, autism and other disabilities are growing at a rapid rate. Caregiver stress and other issues need to be addressed as well as the issues of those in need of care.
I cannot effectively cover the issue of caregiver stress in the confines of one blog. There are far too many variations of caregiving and types of stresses to do that. My goal today is to simply bring to light the main stresses of caregiving. It can be difficult to fully understand the daily stresses of caregivers if one has never been in the situation. I also want to provide one tip of relieving that stress which I have found effective, mediation.
Caregivers can experience a wide variety of symptoms from chronic, long term stress. Feelings of being overwhelmed, sadness, worry and isolation are common. Caregivers may have trouble sleeping or sleep too much, have trouble maintaining their weight (gaining or losing), and struggle with headaches and body aches. Caregivers can be easily irritated and struggle with anger. Caregivers may be more likely to turn to smoking, drugs and alcohol to cope.
Chronic stress can lead to many health issues. Depression and anxiety are common in caregivers. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and caregivers find themselves susceptible to longer recovery times to illness. Obesity is common in caregivers due to stress and lack of opportunity to be active. Caregivers are more likely to develop chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Additionally, caregivers struggle with memory loss and attention span issues.
Before you can effectively take care of someone else you must take care of yourself. My guess is every caregiver who just read that statement rolled their eyes and said aloud “Yeah, right!” Believe me, I get it…I REALLY get it! Our lives are not designed to allow the time and energy to take care of ourselves. Caregiving is a gift, it is also a sickness. We have an inability to say no to others and an inability to say yes to ourselves.
Personally I have found the practice of meditation to help. The beauty of mediation is the more you practice it, the easier it is to fit into the hectic life of a caregiver and more skilled your become at releasing stress. Many picture meditation as sitting on the floor pretzel-style with pinched fingers in an incensed filled room chanting “Ommm”. Meditation can be done just about anywhere actually…lying in bed, sitting on the couch, or even in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. When at home I burn sage while I meditate. I now find that when I smell sage burning, I instantly relax. Meditation is not the cure-all to chronic stress and its affects. However, there are so many benefits, click here for a list of the multiple benefits of meditation.
Start off slow and steady, but be consistent. Below are links to help you get started!