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Facing the Challenges of Being a Family Caregiver

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"There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers." ~ former first lady Rosalyn Carter

Caregiving can be a very rewarding and bonding experience but it can also be very stressful. According to a recent study conducted on behalf of the Home Instead® network, 31% of family caregivers admit they'd like more help, and 25% actually resent other family members who don't help out more. The stress gets worse if the caregiver has other important and pressing responsibilities, such as a job, children to care for, a busy social life, or some distance to travel to care for their elderly relative.

Caregiving can be particularly hard for a spouse, especially when the care recipient requires around the clock assistance. It can even become dangerous if the spousal caregiver has his or her own health issues to deal with, because those problems can be made worse by the stress of caregiving and the lack of attention to the caregiver’s own needs.

Common signs that stress may be affecting your physical health include:

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Back, shoulder or neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Stomach and digestive problems
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Loss of hair
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Perspiration
  • Skin disorders such as hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics, or itching
  • Periodontal disease, jaw pain
  • Reproductive problems or infertility
  • Weakened immune system suppression
  • Sexual dysfunction or lack of libido

Common emotional signs of caregiver stress may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Increased irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling out of control
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Phobias
  • Being more argumentative
  • Feeling isolated
  • Job dissatisfaction

If you are experiencing any of these signs, consider talking with a healthcare professional who can help you evaluate your situation.

To get additional help caring for a senior, contact your local Home Instead® office using the Find Home Care search feature, which is above and to the right.

Last revised: May 16, 2013

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. January 6, 2018 at 2:44 am | Posted by Emory Mahaffey

    My caretaker as well as SO just cheating on me am she is breaking our family with 3 young children. I was told this new relationship is to keep doing. What is my next action, and what my next step to try and keep my family together


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