Studies consistently show that people who provide care to loved ones suffer from higher levels of depression than their non-caregiving peers. In fact, some studies show that as many as half of adult caregivers show signs of depression.
When you're faced with providing care for a loved one, do not set aside your own needs. You are the most important person in the process. If you allow yourself to "burn out", you can no longer care for your loved one and may find that it's hard to take care of yourself.
To avoid the high levels of stress associated with caregiving:
- Monitor your health. Inadequate sleep and high levels of stress can easily take a physical toll. If you find yourself physically or mentally weaker, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Set aside a few hours a week of down time outside of the home, maybe lunch with friends or an afternoon at the park. Scheduling some sort of respite from the demands of caring is vital to your mental well-being.
- Stay connected to others. Do not allow yourself to become isolated from friends or other family members.
- See a counsellor to discuss the effects of your newfound role as caregiver.
- Attend caregiver support group meetings.
- Remember, no matter how much effort you put in, your aging loved one is unlikely to consistently improve. The reality is that decline is inevitable and the demands increasing.
- One of the greatest challenges for any caregiver is dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's. For an insite into this difficult task read How to deal with Alzheimer's as a Caregiver. Another useful article is The Impact of caring for a person with Dementia.