Whether it's full-time or part-time, being a caregiver is stressful. Sometimes caregiving may be short-term, such as after a hospital stay, but in some instances your caregiving role could go on indefinitely.
While you have the best intentions to care for your loved one, you need to be aware of when you have become too overburdened or under too much pressure to provide the best care for them.
Here are some warning signs that may indicate that you need to explore other caregiving options:
Adding yet more work to your day to care for a loved one will make you more tired. However, if you feel constantly tired, lethargic or bored, no matter what you're doing, you should take it as a warning sign. Your loved one requires more than mechanical caregiving--you need to be emotionally available for them as well.
Are you starting to lash out or have bursts of anger over small things? Are once-simple and familiar tasks, like telling your child to stop goofing around, causing you to explode in frustration? If you've noticed your fuse has shortened, it could be because of stress.
3. Mood Swings
An emotional swing from happy to sad can be a sign of compounding stress. It's natural to be worried and concerned about your loved one, but if you find yourself unable to control your emotions or unable to understand why you feel a certain way, you could be overburdened.
4. Personal Neglect
Being a caregiver doesn't mean you should drop your life. If you spend all day doting on your loved one and find yourself going for stretches of time without interacting with others or doing the things you love to do, you aren't giving yourself enough time to take care of yourself. This can contribute to more stress and eventual burnout.
5. Sudden Weight Fluctuations
Sometimes you may not even be aware that you are forgetting to eat meals. Or, if you've gained weight, those extra pounds could be from nervous eating habits. Either way, gaining or losing weight suddenly can be a sign of increased stress.
6. Lack of Sleep
Factors like anxiety and stress can cause disruptions in sleep schedules. Your loved one wandering about at night can also cause sleep problems for you. Not giving your mind and body ample time to recharge can lead to forgetfulness, irritability and sluggishness, which can make your life much more difficult.
7. Placing Blame
While it's natural to feel periodic frustration, resenting your loved one is different. If you find yourself blaming your loved one during daily activities, it's an indication you need a break.
You do not have to go it alone. There are many support systems for caregivers, like locally funded transportation options and adult day care centers, to give you a much-needed break.
Visit our resource guide for caregivers for more information.
Also, some in-home care costs may be covered by Medicare Part B. Speak with a healthcare professional to see what assistance your Medicare plan can provide.