Signs of Caregiver Stress

Signs of Caregiver Stress

46% of family caregivers who have been caring for loved ones for more than 5 years report being under a lot of stress.  These numbers are startling – considering that 3 out of 10 adults are caregivers for a spouse or parent, and spend an average of 10 years taking care of a loved one.

Here are some alarming statistics:

  • 72% of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should
  • 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves
  • 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits
  • 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities

In many instances, these family caregivers are putting their lives on hold to take care of loved ones, sometimes leaving their full-time jobs if they can afford to do so. However, costs add up (the average out of pocket spend on caregiving is $5,531); many caregivers cannot afford to leave their jobs and then must also maintain a full-time job while taking care of an ill family.

Here are some of the areas where stress comes in:

  • Role confusionas the caregiver transitions from spouse, child, etc. to caregiver
  • Unrealistic expectationsas caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health of the patient - which is not always the case.
  • Lack of controlas caregivers become frustrated by the complexity of the health system and feel unprepared to effectively plan their loved one's care.

One big factor for caregiver stress due to lack of control is how unpredictable medical appointments can be (lasting longer than expected, starting later than scheduled or being rescheduled entirely). Planning for medical appointments while at the same time managing a fulltime job and/or other demands can be overwhelming for caregivers.  That is why many families turn to Medbridge Transport’s medical transportation services.  The company’s trained drivers provide hand-to-hand transportation service, (escort passengers all the way to waiting rooms, check them in, and, wait with passengers for the duration of their appointments if requested) and undergo thorough empathy training.

The transportation service to medical appointments has proven to be a big stress reliever for family caregivers especially when the family member under care requires a wheelchair accessible transport.

While being a caregiver is rewarding on so many levels, caring for a wheelchair-bound loved one can also be challenging and lead to what is known as caregiver stress. Caregiver stress is incredibly common.  It’s a result of both the emotional and physical strains caregivers undertake every day, as most are continuously “on call” to help their loved ones.

Caregiving for a wheelchair-bound loved one can become overwhelming at times and leave little room for the caregiver to focus on other priorities. Sometimes, this stress can even lead to detrimental health effects on the caregiver, as their aid can mean forgoing care for themselves altogether.

That’s why it’s so important to understand that caregiver stress can take many forms, from anger to depression, to physical pains.  Caregiver stress can cloud the mind, body and soul, and can even lead to making careless mistakes that are harmful to both the caregiver and the cared for.

The act of caring goes both ways, so know the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress.  They include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone and isolated
  • Irritability and anger
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Frequent headaches or body aches
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed

When everyone’s aware of the risk of caregiver stress, we can all work together to help relieve that stress and prevent negative health effects. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other loved ones and local resources for help from time to time. After all, you need to be able to care for yourself before you can take on the care of your wheelchair-bound loved one.