How to Cope With Caregiver Syndrome
Yes. It is a real ailment. You can call it caregiver stress, caregiver strain or caregiver syndrome. But whatever the name, it is the feeling of hopelessness with being overcome by the burdens of caring for a loved one.
And while caregiver syndrome is best identified with diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia, it can affect any caregiver who is living with the 24/7 demands of care giving.
In addition to the emotional stress that causes exhaustion, anger and feelings of hopelessness, caregiver syndrome can take a physical effect on the caregiver as well.
The reason for this is clear. The adult child caregiver not only has their parent to take care of but their spouse and children as well. And, with the lack of time, they stop taking care of themselves. They stop exercising. They stop eating right. And the resulting weight gain (or loss) combined with the stress of the situation means that caregivers live on average 5-7 years less than the rest of the population.
So, how does a caregiver go about getting the support they need?
First, it's time for the family meeting. In most families, one person is handling most or all of the caregiving. So, when you get together with your siblings you need to admit to them that you are not a superhero and need help in the caregiving. Delegate responsibilities and find out who can come over to be a respite caregiver for a few hours or a weekend so that you can have a life.
This will work in MOST circumstances. However, if your siblings are at a distance or the un-cooperative sibling, then you have a different situation to deal with. But different situations bring about different solutions. Here is what you need to do:
Arrange for a home health care aid to come and take care of your loved one. Seek government help through your local Office of the Aging. Arrange for respite care.
Acknowledge that you cannot handle this any more and make arrangements for them to live in an assisted living or nursing home.
Both respite care and home health care agencies serve the same purpose. This is to bring someone in to take some of the burden off of you. The choice you make will be dependent upon economics and the services that are required by your loved one. The home health care agency will be more expensive but will probably offer more in-depth services as well as licensed individuals.
Next, reach to the local Office of Senior Services or Office of the Aging. The services can vary from county-to-county.
The above is an edited version of an article by Tony Rovere,