8 Coping Strategies for Caregiver Stress

by Christine Kennard Health Professional

Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can as many of us know, be a nightmare. Caregiving carries a health warning. Caregivers go to their doctors for their own health problems 50% more often than non caregivers, they receive 70% more prescribed medicines than non caregivers, they go to hospital or Emergency room 25% more than non-caregivers, they suffer the effects of stress including high blood pressure, heart disease, and suffer emotional problems that include anger, despair, hopelessness, guilt and depression.
All these things highlight the fact that as a caregiver you must find the time to look after yourself.

Often caregivers will say they don't have the time, but you have to try and make it otherwise you will need caregivers yourself.

Can I suggest a few things? I know you have probably considered many of them before, but at times when you get very stressed there is an urgency to look at self care strategies again.

*A shoulder to cry on: Can you contact a relative who lives close by and talk about your situation and how desperate you feel and ask for some support?

*Do you need m edical intervention? Do you think you need to see your doctor? Do you think you are depressed, over stressed? He may suggest a short course of medication to help you cope.

*Can you ask others for support? Your sons/daughters/sister/brothers, friends, do they know just how hard you are finding things? They could come and give you a night off. Sometimes unless we need remind others and tell them how bad we feel they think you are coping fine and do not need their intervention. People are often willing to help especially if it is only for a short time.

*Caregivers need time to have your own activities, something to look forward to: The benefit you will get from this will be worth the effort of arranging the support you require if the activity is outside your home. You might not always be able to do an activity with your partner, but it can still be fun. It will allow you time to re-engage with friends, make new ones.

The Alzheimer's Association can put you in touch with programs, resources and support in your area.

*Local Cooperative Support Sitters: Some people with relatives with dementia can offer cooperative sitting sessions to allow the other caregiver a bit of time off.

  • Me Time: Activities can be things where you make time for yourself in the day, where you do not leave your house/apartment, but it can still give you some 'Me time'.

*Exercise Does Help: Exercise is also very important as it's a natural antidepressant. It also helps to tone muscles, supports the immune system and helps clear your mind.

*Relaxation is very important: You can buy relaxation tapes at many outlets or online. Here are some great free links to information and relaxation techniques you can master yourself.
I hope you find useful:

Seven Tips to Overcome Stress and Anxiety

Anxious? Stressed? Express it in Writing

How Relaxation Benefits Your health

Easy Meditation

How to Think Positively: a relaxation at home exercise

I hope there is something in what I have written that helps. Caregivers must look after themselves.

Christine Kennard
Meet Our Writer
Christine Kennard

Christine Kennard wrote about Alzheimer's for HealthCentral. She has many years of experience in private and public sector nursing care homes for people with dementia. She has worked in a variety of hospital, public and private health settings and specialized in community nursing. Christine is qualified in group analytic psychotherapy, is registered in general and mental health nursing and has a Masters degree.