Steven W. Saldukas, PhD
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Caregiver Stress Management Tactics

If you are caring for someone who is sick, physically disabled or mentally impaired it can take a tremendous toll on you, your family and your relationships. The following are the main sources of stress that you may experience. 

  • Financial Hardship
  • Physical Demands
  • Emotional Demands
  • Loss of Balance in Lifestyle
  • Family Tensions

With all of these stressors, it is not surprising you may become overwhelmed and begin to feel burned out.   This is not only potentially detrimental to you, but also for the person you are caring for.  Below are some tips to help you manage these stressors for both your well-being, and for those you are caring for:

1. Look After Yourself
. Remember, if you are not in good health, both you and your loved one will suffer. You must eat well, maintain a healthy weight, get regular check-ups, take your medication as directed, and be sure to take some time for yourself.

2. Ask for Help.
Although you may think that people should know when you need help, that is not always the case. You have to ask. In many instances your friends and family are glad to give you assistance, but they don't know what to do. Asking specifically for what you need allows them to not only help you care for your loved one, but also takes the entire burden off of your shoulders.

3. Communicate Your Emotions
: It is easy to stuff your feelings. Remember, however, that eventually your emotional cup will get full and run over. So, you can choose to deal with your emotions on your terms, or they will come out on theirs - often without a positive outcome. Take time to express yourself, talk through stressful situations, and encourage those around you to do the same. Although it is more difficult at the time, in the long run it produces less stress and a better outcome.

4. Don't Forget About Your "Other" Family: Caring for loved ones who can't care for themselves can become all consuming. However, don't forget that you have other people in your life that love you and need your attention. You must make time for them as well, although it can certainly be a challenge and seem to only add to your stress. However, time with your family can take you away from the caregiver role, and give you a much needed getaway, and remind those people that love you how much you care for them.

5. Seek Professional Help: Sometimes talking with a helpful professional can be very soothing. They can assist you put things into perspective, and better deal with difficult situations and decisions.

6. Realize You Are Not Superhuman - It is okay to NOT be able to manage it all alone. There are support groups and agencies that can provide you with assistance. For example, you can find agencies to help with: cooking, housekeeping, spending time with your loved one, transportation, etc. You are not giving up caring for your loved one, just getting some help. There are many support groups that dedicate themselves to helping families just like yours often for little or no cost.

Dr. Saldukas is a private practice psychologist in Naples, Florida. He works with a wide variety of patient types and ages.  He provides therapy, memory testing, and memory strategies to improve the patient's and their families quality-of-life. He not only provides services to his patients' at his office, but also in their homes or long-term care facilities when indicated. Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.

7:59 pm edt 

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