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Tips for Caregiver Stress

Caregiving of an elderly loved one can be both physically and emotionally stressful. The stress of caregiving may cause fatigue, headaches, and trouble sleeping. The pressure of a busy schedule can be compounded by feeling inadequate about providing care, by feeling both love and pity for the family member, and by feeling anger at having one's life consumed by the situation.

It is important to keep two encouraging facts in mind: stress can be beneficial and stress can be controlled. Becoming aware of the stressors in your life and learning ways to control these can be helpful.

  1. Define what stress means to you and be aware of its sources. Which stressors can be changed?
  2. Maintain a positive attitude. Plan short-term realistic goals that can be achieved.
  3. Avoid being hard on yourself. Remind yourself you are doing the best you can given the circumstances.
  4. Learn to say NO. Some caregivers may take on more than their share of work out of sense of "duty". You have a right to control your time.
  5. Arrange for a break from caregiving to do other things you enjoy.
  6. Learn to relax. Regular physical activity is an excellent way to work through frustrations and burn off excess energy.
  7. Ask family and friends for help whenever possible. Accept their help when offered.

Catherine Cherpas, Ph.D.

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