Angela Lacalamita, LCPC
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Strategies to Manage Caregiver Stress

If you are a caregiver, you are not alone. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, estimate that more than 65 million people, 29% of the U. S. population provides care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member. Over the next several years, this number is expected to increase significantly. With the rising costs of long-term care and increasing budget cuts with agencies that provide assistance, it may be unrealistic for some to avoid taking on the role of a caregiver for a family member. In addition to the stress of providing care, caregivers often experience additional challenges. Balancing the pressure of work, child care and relationships can be quite difficult and result in significant strain on a marriage or family. If you are going to care for a family member, it is imperative that you develop effective strategies to manage the level of stress.

1.) Find a support group for those who are also caregivers. Utilize any community resources or hospitals to locate groups that may be taking place in your community. It helps to talk to others who are experiencing similar challenges.

2.) Self-Care. Get adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise. It is very important that you have the physical and emotional energy necessary to provide care.

3.) Utilize resources such as family, friends professional or community agencies to assist you. There are a number of non for profit social service agencies or government agencies that may be able to provide you some assistance.

4.) Take care of your emotional well-being. Caregivers are at risk for burnout, stress, and clinical depression. Monitor your mental and emotional health. See a therapist if you begin to see signs of prolonged sadness, anger, resentment, sleeplessness, alcohol or drug abuse, and anxiety. Also, make sure you get enough time to interact with your friends and enjoy your hobbies.

5.) Be realistic with what you can give and don't give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, Remember that you are doing all that you can. Ask for help from your family or friends. You don't have to feel guilty about asking for help.