Caregiver stress is a topic that is often avoided or neglected by many until they reach breaking point. Unfortunately though, it is extremely common for a lot of caregivers who often put their own health and care needs behind those that they are delivering care to.
Caregiving is an extremely rewarding role, but it is also challenging. Many caregivers are delivering informal or unpaid support to a family member, friend or loved one and don’t have support networks in place to ensure that they get the rest and attention they need while they deliver care and support to others.
This is why Caregiver stress and burnout is increasingly common. Burnout may occur when the carer does not get the support they need physically, emotionally or financially.
There are however resources available for caregivers to offer them much needed support in their role. Including tips for managing caregiver stress so that you can prevent burnout.
What is the role of a caregiver?
Caregivers play a huge role in many older Australians care on a day to day basis. Where the older person is receiving formal support either privately or through government programs, a caregiver will often work hand in hand to ensure the recipients care needs are met.
Caregivers could be responsible for any tasks including assisting their loved ones with feeding, showering, lifting or transportation, managing medications, as well as providing emotional and social support. The tasks they deliver will be dependant on the recipients day to day needs, health and the other support they have available to them.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 1 in 10 Australians are unpaid informal carergivers and provide at least 20 hours of care a week. With this in mind, caregivers may tend to experience burnout and low well-being.
What are the signs of caregiver stress, fatigue, and burnout?
There is a range of signs associated with caregiver burnout such as the following but not limited to:
- Excessive stress.
- Financial difficulties.
- Overreaction to small things.
- Problems with health conditions: such as new or worsening health problems, including recurrent colds, etc.;
What are the risk factors for caregiver stress?
The risks following caregiver stress differ from person to person however, here are some common risks:
- Changes in one’s health.
- Mixed emotions.
- Increased financial hardship due to their caregiver role.
- External stressors that may affect them mentally and emotionally such as work and family responsibilities etc.
Why is communication important as a caregiver?
Communication is vital when it comes to receiving support. Without communication, you wouldn’t be able to be acknowledged for the work that you do.
Often caregivers feel they have no one to turn to for support, or experience guilt for expressing negative emotions. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone and that many other caregivers go through similar situations and emotions.
Having a support network and coping mechanisms to help process and manage your stress is extremely important.
You could share your concerns, experiences and feelings with other caregivers as they may be able to offer advice and support. This ensures that you feel supported as it is known that carers don’t always prioritise themselves when looking after someone else.
Here are 5 different strategies available to help you deal with the stress of being a caregiver so that you can provide the best care without sacrificing your own health:
1. Research support available to you:
There are many different types of support available to you to help prevent caregiver stress. These could include government programs, local networks, online resources and more. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Carer’s Gateway: Carer Gateway provides carer specific in-person, phone, and online services and support nationally to help you in your caring role.
- My Aged Care funding: funding through My Aged Care could help you get some formal services in place for the person you are caring for. This could help create a care circle around the recipient of your caregiving, and reduce your caregiving stress. If you’re recipient is already receiving some support, such as a Home Care Package, speak to their Provider about the types of services that might help alleviate some of the caregiver stress you are experiencing.
- Carer’s Australia: are the national peak body representing Australia’s unpaid carers, advocating on their behalf to influence policies and services at a national level. They have resources and networks available to support you.
2. Set personal health goals:
Make sure to establish a good sleep routine and eat a healthy diet. If your own health deteriorates you will struggle to continue to caregiving. Prioritising this is important for not only you, but for the person you are providing much needed services to. Staying fit and healthy helps you avoid caregiver stress and also ensure that if you suffer from it, you are able to recover quickly.
3. Accept help:
Be open to accepting help, whether it is a few times during the week or more. It can be scary, particularly when you are a primary carer to do this, but it is important for your mental and physical health. Taking breaks and respite will help ensure when you are back caregiving you are in the best place to be there for your recipient.
4. Join a support group:
Allow yourself to be open about your situation and seek guidance from others. There are many others in situations similar to yourself, you are not alone. But sometimes it’s hard to believe that unless you know somebody you can relate to. Being able to relate and chat to others who are facing similar challenges is an important way to cope and manage your own feelings and caregiver stress.
5. See your doctor:
If you are experiencing any health symptoms as a consequence of your caregiver stress, reach out to your GP. Keeping your Doctor in the loop in terms of symptoms you are experiencing is important for both your health and that of your care recipient.
If you feel like the person you may be caring for might be entitled to a Home Care Package and would like to learn more, feel free to reach out to our expert team on 1300 497 442 or click here to learn more about the services we provide.
On behalf of Let’s Get Care, we are so grateful to every caregiver for doing all you can to improve the lives of those around you. We hope this article has helped you find some coping mechanisms for managing caregiver stress, but please reach out to professionals for support if you need it.