Always Best Care Tips for Family Caregivers Under Stress
65% of seniors who require assistance rely exclusively on families and friends (Knickman& Snell, 2002). Plus another 30% rely at least in part on informal care (p. 849).
Are you among them? If so, your mental and physical health might be at risk.
Don’t underestimate the informal care burden. Researchers around the globe have been growing increasingly concerned about the health and welfare of people who provide informal care for family and friends with chronic illnesses and disabilities (Doran et al., 2003). Clinical observation and numerous empirical studies have shown the physical and psychological effects of informal caregiving.
According to the Journal of Social Work Education, caregiving has “all the features of a chronic stress experience: it creates mentaland physical strain over extended periods of time; is accompanied by high levels of unpredictability and uncontrollability; has the capacity to create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships; and frequently requires high levels of vigilance” (Schulz & Sherwood, 2008, p. 105). In fact, informal caregiving fits the formula for chronic stress so perfectly that it’s become the standard model for studying the health effects of chronic stress.
Further, more often than not, informal care duties fall on vulnerable groups, such as elderly spouses or younger family members (Doran et al., 2003, p. 1388). Indeed, research by the British Medical Journal found that as many as 70% of informal caregivers were not in good health themselves, even before the stress of their caregiving duties began to mount.
With that in mind, it’s crucial that informal caregivers make time for themselves, both to maintain their own health and enhance the level of care they’re able to provide. Read on for some helpful self-care strategies, courtesy of Always Best Care in Manhattan Beach, California.
ABC Manhattan Beach’s Self-Care Tips Informal Caregivers
- Schedule time for what’s important to you and to take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs of exercise, sleep, and healthy food.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others; in the words of Samwise Gamgee, sharethe load! There are a number of support groups that can help–just knowing that others are experiencing the same ups and downs as you can be extremely comforting. Loli Ramezani President of Always Best Care, Manhattan Beach, leads a free monthly support group at the ‘Westchester Senior Center’https://www.laparks.org/scc/Westchester, 1-2pm, second Tuesdays.
- Explore long-distance caregiving options. Social workers, nurses, and Always Best Care staff can help you monitor your loved one from afar. When used in conjunction with assistive technologies such as personal emergency response systems, your loved one will have 24/7 support and monitoring.
- Research benefits or services that may be available to you, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. Understand the financial impact of informal caregiving to better manage stress and avoid any surprises. Informal caregiving takes a serious financial toll on providers in the form of missed opportunities, work absences, and out-of-pocket spending on groceries, prescriptions, and assistive tech. It quickly adds up; back in 1997–more than a decade before the senior boom started–informal caregiving cost the American economy $196 billion (Arno et al., 1999, p. 182).
Explore Formal Caregiving with Always Best Care
Many people are surprised to learn how affordable senior care services can be. Why not find out for yourself?
Arno, P. S., Levine, C., & Memmott, M. M. (1999). The economic value of informal caregiving. Health Affairs, 18(2), 182-188.
Doran, T., Drever, F., & Whitehead, M. (2003). Health of young and elderly informal carers: analysis of UK census data. British Medical Journal, 327(7428), 1388.
Knickman, J. R., & Snell, E. K. (2002). The 2030 problem: caring for aging baby boomers. Health Services Research, 37(4), 849-884.
Pinquart, M., &Sörensen, S. (2007). Correlates of physical health of informal caregivers: a meta-analysis. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 62(2), P126-P137.
Schulz, R., & Sherwood, P. R. (2008). Physical and mental health effects of family caregiving. Journal of Social Work Education, 44(sup3), 105-113.