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Overlooked Signs of Caregiver Stress

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We are an aging society and one result of this phenomenon is that more and more of the elderly are being cared for in their own homes or are living with an adult child. Adult children across the nation are learning what it means to be a part of the “sandwich generation,” nestled in between caring for their children and their elderly parents. The demand placed on the caregiver can often lead to an overwhelming amount of stress.

Most people know some of the more obvious symptoms of caregiver stress. If you find yourself crying easily or being increasingly irritable, fatigued or angry, then these might be signs that you are not coping well with the stress that you are under as you care for your family. Insomnia and “stress eating” are two other symptoms that frequently occur with chronic stress.

However, not all signs of caregiver stress are obvious and not everyone reacts to stress in the same way. There are harder to identify symptoms that caregivers in Oklahoma should be aware of, with one of the most common being digestive problems. Stress can often appear in the form of chronic stomach pain or indigestion. Many people do not make the connection between stress and their stomach because they are too busy managing the needs and health of their aging loved one.

Another symptom to look out for is changes in mental status — your own, that is. Chronic stress can sometimes lead to confusion, disordered thinking and even memory problems. Caregivers will often joke about having “senior moments” of their own and of course, having a few lapses here and there is natural if your schedule is hectic. However, if it seems like these “senior moments” are becoming a regular pattern and you are having difficulty concentrating, this may be the result of cognitive changes that are stress-induced.

So what do you do if you notice these symptoms in yourself? First, realize that there is no need to feel guilty or ashamed about these reactions. Caregiving is inherently stressful and having these symptoms does not make you a bad caregiver. Secondly, you should seek help for the situation. You could arrange for respite or part-time care in Oklahoma a few times a week so that you can take time for yourself. It could also mean talking to your doctor about medical intervention that might be helpful. Lifestyle changes like increasing your rest and making sure you are eating healthy are also good ways to reduce the stress.

If you need help managing the care of an aging parent or could simply use a break from your caregiving responsibilities, contact a Care Manager at 405-285-4191. We are a leading provider of home care in Edmond, OK and are available 24/7 to answer questions and can help you schedule a free, in-home consultation.

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