There are changes in the relationship between yourself and the person you are caring for; not to mention the changes in your role and identity, especially if you have given up work.
While caring for a family member or friend can be a rewarding and affirming experience, it can also be extremely challenging and stressful. Caring for someone with an illness or disability can also have a physical, emotional and financial toll.
If the person you are caring for has a neurological condition such as an acquired brain injury or dementia, they may have had a change in their personality and display challenging behaviours such as verbal and physical aggression, or sexually disinhibited behavior. This can cause additional strain.
Caregivers have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety, physical illnesses and poor sleep. It is common for carers to overlook their own physical and emotional health; however, it is important to take time and look after yourself to avoid burnout, so that you are able to continue to provide care.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
- feeling overwhelmed;
- feeling sad;
- fatigue most of the time;
- being easily irritated or angry;
- frequent headaches, aches and pains;
- changes in weight;
- feeling isolated or lonely;
- not knowing how or if you can continue caring for your loved one;
- relying on alcohol or drugs to cope with the stress.
Tips for Coping as a Caregiver
Here are some tips to help you as a caregiver:
- Educate yourself about the disease your family member is facing and how it may affect their behaviour;
- Accept and find help for caregiver tasks. Contact family and friends, phone Carers Queensland on 1800 242 636 for advice and support options.
- Set aside some personal time for something you enjoy, or something you need to get done.
- Try to find time for exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep.
- Use your personal network of friends and family for support or find a support group for caregivers in your area.
If you are experiencing symptoms of caregiver stress and would like support managing painful thoughts and feelings, or coping with your role as a carer, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you.
Author: Dr Megan Broughton, BA Hons (Psych), PhD (Clinical Psychology & Clinical Neuropsychology), MAPS, MCCLP, MCCN.
Dr Megan Broughton is a highly qualified Brisbane Psychologist, with over 10 years’ experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating clients with a range of psychological and neurological conditions. She is passionate about helping adults and their family members cope with challenges associated with health conditions, accident, ageing, or disability.
To make an appointment with Dr Megan Broughton, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.
- Elmore, D. L. (2014). The Impact of Caregiving on Physical and Mental Health: Implications for Research, Practice, Education, and Policy. In The Challenges of Mental Health Caregiving (pp. 15-31). Springer New York.
- Parks, S.M. & Novielli, K.D. (2000). A Practical Guide to Caring for Caregivers. American Family Physician, 62, 2613-2620.