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The adverse effects of caregiving on your health and what you can do about it


This story is sponsored by JEA Senior Living. Learn more about JEA Senior Living.

Family caregivers put up with a lot. They typically are still working and raising their families while also caring for a close friend or family member. If you fit this description, it’s likely you identify with many of the struggles associated with familial caregivers. Still, there are certain things you should know about the potential effects your situation can have on your health, and how to steer clear of the most common pitfalls.

Concern for caregivers

According to the American Psychological Association, family caregiving has been a widely researched topic since as early as the 1980s. As a result, there’s a lot that’s been discovered about this particular relationship. For one thing, many familial caregivers do not report strain or stress. However, for those that do report some type of mental or emotional strain, they may have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than their noncaregiving contemporaries. Startling statistics aside, few people say that caregiving for a spouse or parent is easy, particularly without any added support.

Common caregiver problems

Through many surveys and scientific studies on family caregiver providers, researchers have compiled a list of common negative effects that many caregivers experience:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Failure to exercise self-care, especially when ill
  • Missed or postponed medical appointments for caregiver health
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor nutrition and eating habits
  • These effects can wreak havoc on a person’s physical health, as well as emotional health as well. In fact, most familial caregivers who do not regularly seek supportive counseling experience the following problems: Severe emotional distress
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty maintaining focus
  • Lack of energy for any personal activity other than caregiving

If you feel like one or more of these effects describe your current situation, it’s time to seek help now. Help comes in many forms, but for most family caregivers, it revolves around finding a consistent support system. Here are some solutions to consider.

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Ways to combat negative effects

It’s obvious that with the above effects happening in your life, you won’t be able to take care of yourself, let alone the person you’ve assumed responsibility for. In fact, caregivers of baby boomer age are also at an even higher risk of depression, chronic illness and decline in quality of life.

So how can you take charge of your life and care for yourself without neglecting others or feeling guilty? Here are some solutions:

  • Seek the support of a counselor, whether professional or otherwise.
  • Accept support when others offer it, including delegating tasks and allowing others to take part in the caregiving process.
  • Participate in activities that you enjoy and nurture your mental/emotional well-being, such as a hobby or activity meant just for you.
  • Consume a balanced and nutritious diet.
  • Exercise regularly, even if it’s in smaller increments throughout the week.
  • Take advantage of stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, etc.
  • Attend to your health care needs in a timely manner.
  • Set small reachable goals of what you want to accomplish in your life, and then do it.
  • Allow yourself to acknowledge and validate all your feelings.
  • Practice changing your perspective from negative to positive, especially in how you view daily situations.

These tips aside, if you feel like you are dealing with more than you can handle, you’re not alone. Many caregivers continue on simply because they feel they have no other choice. However, if you want to be happy while obtaining the best possible care for your loved one, consider the possibility of a care facility in your area. Such facilities have highly trained staff members to help meet your loved one’s needs, so you can live your life without guilt or worry.

Everyone deserves to be happy and taken care of, including you, so take a look at senior living locations in your area for your loved one and at community support groups for caregivers like yourself.