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Facing the Challenges of Being a Family Caregiver

"There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers." ~ former first lady Rosalyn Carter
Caregiving can be a very rewarding and bonding experience but it can also be very stressful. According to a recent study conducted on behalf of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, 31% of family caregivers admit they'd like more help, and 25% actually resent other family members who don't help out more. The stress gets worse if the caregiver has other important and pressing responsibilities, such as a job, children to care for, a busy social life, or some distance to travel to care for their elderly relative. Caregiving can be particularly hard for a spouse, especially when the care recipient requires around the clock assistance. It can even become dangerous if the spousal caregiver has his or her own health issues to deal with, because those problems can be made worse by the stress of caregiving and the lack of attention to the caregiver’s own needs. Common signs that stress may be affecting your physical health include:
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Back, shoulder or neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Stomach and digestive problems
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Loss of hair
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Perspiration
  • Skin disorders such as hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics, or itching
  • Periodontal disease, jaw pain
  • Reproductive problems or infertility
  • Weakened immune system suppression
Common emotional signs of caregiver stress may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Increased irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling out of control
  • Phobias
  • Being more argumentative
  • Feeling isolated
  • Job dissatisfaction
If you are experiencing any of these signs, consider talking with a healthcare professional who can help you evaluate your situation.

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