Many people who are family caregivers to older adults experience something called caregiver stress. Caregiver stress happens because of the emotional, physical, and mental stress that caregiving brings with it. Caregivers often feel spread thin because of their responsibilities to their aging relative, work, and their own children and spouses. Many caregivers are “on call” and find themselves rushing to the older adult’s house on a moment’s notice. Caregiver stress can cause health problems, so it’s important that you learn to manage your stress.
Health Effects of Caregiver Stress
When left unchecked, over a period of time caregiver stress can result in some serious complications. Some of the things that caregiver stress can cause are:
- Weakened immune system.
- Increased risk for disease.
- Trouble with short-term memory and the ability to pay attention.
Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress
One way to relieve some of the stress associated with being a caregiver is to practice some relaxation techniques. There are lots of different techniques, so keep trying until you find one that works for you. Some relaxation techniques to try are:
- Deep Breathing: The nice thing about this technique is that you can use it anywhere. It simply involves finding a comfortable place to sit where you can keep your back straight. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Breathe in through your nose so that you feel the hand on your belly rise. Breathe out through your mouth and get rid of as much air as possible. You should feel the hand on your belly go back down. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move much. Keep taking slow, deep breaths until you feel better.
- Autogenic Relaxation: This technique involves repeating a phrase to yourself or imagining being somewhere peaceful. While you do this, think about your body relaxing and your breathing slowing.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: The purpose of this kind of relaxation is to help you recognize the difference between relaxed muscles and tense muscles. Starting at your feet, tense a muscle group for about 30 seconds and then relax it. For example, tense just your left foot without tensing other muscles. Tense one muscle group at a time until you reach your head.
- Yoga or Tai Chi: These forms of exercise have been shown to relieve the stress of those who do them. Both involve slow movements and deep breathing. Yoga or tai chi classes are available in most communities.
Another way you can relieve your caregiver stress is by getting help with your aging relative’s care. Home care is an excellent way to reduce some of the pressure on caregivers by taking on some tasks. A home care provider can help with running errands, such as doing the grocery shopping for the senior. Home care can also assist with personal care, such as helping the senior to bathe and dress.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Rolling Meadows, IL, please call the caring staff at A-Abiding Care today. Serving North and Northwest Chicago and the surrounding area for over 30 years. Call 847-698-1400.