When you are a caregiver to an older adult with a chronic condition or a disability, it can be overwhelming and incredibly difficult. Many caregivers develop a condition called “caregiver stress.” It happens because of the pressures involved in offering the care the older adult needs while also balancing your other responsibilities. Being able to identify the causes of caregiver stress may help you to avoid them and prevent the problem.
Some of the causes of caregiver stress are described below.
Change in Role
When you first become a caregiver, one of the hardest things to deal with can be the change in your role or relationship to the older adult. This can be especially true for adult children who become caregivers. You’re used to your parent taking care of you and now you are responsible for their care.
You may have trouble separating your feelings as a child from what you need to do as a caregiver. For example, when your parent refuses to follow a doctor’s orders, as their child, you want to respect them and allow them to make their own choice. However, as a caregiver, you know they need to take their medication and should do your best to enforce the doctor’s treatment plan.
Being a caregiver can be hard on your finances. Many caregivers reduce their work hours to spend more time with their aging relative. Some give up working altogether. In some cases, caregivers contribute their own money to the care of the older adult. They may buy groceries, pay medical bills, or provide other monetary assistance.
Lack of “Me Time”
Often, one of the first things to go when a person becomes a caregiver is the time they used to spend on self-care. To fit everything into the day, caregivers may skip meals or eat junk food, cancel their own medical appointments, and not make time to exercise. They also stop spending time with friends and other family members.
Guilt About Caregiving
Many caregivers feel guilty about the level of care they are able to provide to their older family member. They dwell on what they perceive as mistakes rather than focusing on the way their caregiving makes the senior’s life better. They may also feel guilty about degrading relationships with others in their life because they don’t have time to spend with them anymore. Some caregivers feel guilty about not being with their spouse and children when they are with the older adult then feel guilty about being at home when they are not with the senior.