As we go about the business of leading our lives, who among us hasn’t felt some stress? There’s a lot going on….jobs, children, the economy, our finances, health problems, family relationships, and so many other things. We have a right to feel stressed. Actually, we’ve earned it! According to a recent study at the University of California, Berkley some stress is actually good for you. It pushes your brain to greater levels of alertness and that translates into better performance in many areas. Under stress, your adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol and small increases of this hormone produce positive effects such as a quick burst of energy and stronger memory functioning. The key phrase here is “small increases”. When you experience chronic stress your body produces greater amounts of cortisol for longer periods of time and then the cortisol causes serious negative side effects. These negative side effects can include higher blood pressure, lower thyroid function, lowered immunity, poorer cognitive ability, and a predisposition to heart attacks and strokes.
As caregivers, this should be one of our major concerns. After all, we fall in the “chronic” category. We’re not caregivers for just a day or even a week. According to a 2009 AARP study, 29% of adults are informal (meaning unpaid) caregivers spending an average of 20 hours per week for approximately 4.6 years caring for a loved one. In addition to caring for another person, 59% of informal caregivers also have jobs. Living your life and meeting the challenges of caring for someone can easily result in chronic extreme caregiver stress. According to Elissa Epel from the University of California, this can result in a life shortened by 10 years.
You may be suffering from caregiver stress if you have a combination of these signs:
*depression or anxiety/sadness and periodic crying
*sleeping too much or too little
*tension headaches or neck pain
*feeling overwhelmed and irritable
*losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
*frequent colds or infections
*moodiness or mood swings
*feelings of isolation
It’s important to recognize the signs of caregiver stress. The first step is recognizing how stressed you are and how it affects you and in turn your family. Only after you recognize your stress level will you be able to do something about it. Remember, you’ll be useless to your loved one if you yourself need a caregiver. Have you had caregiver stress? How did you realize it? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com