Caregiver Stress – no one is immune

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Life as a Caregiver and Dealing With Stress Caring for Aging Parents – AARP.  The attached article, written by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC News, shows us that even doctor-caregivers are not immune from the stress brought on by caregiving.  A year after Nancy and her siblings moved their parents to live near her, Dr. Snyderman became “one of almost 44 million U.S. adults caring for an older friend or family member.”

My dad and I, five years before I became his caregiver; 13 years before he died from Alzheimer's.
My dad and I, five years before I became his caregiver; seven years before he died from Alzheimer’s.

Statistics show that caregivers tend to patients who are loved ones, an average of 20 hours each week – many times on top of part-time or full-time employment.  Before long, Dr. Snyderman came to the realization that she had forgotten to check in on how she was doing.  She gained weight, she slept only a few hours a night, and she experienced burnout – not unlike what many of us have felt as caregivers – or former caregivers – for family members.

In my article, Caregiver: put on your oxygen mask first, I address the importance of caring for yourself first, and the patient second.  “No way,” you say, “my mom/dad/spouse come first; they need me!”  You’re absolutely correct – they do need you, but if you get sick or disabled, you can’t be there for them.  That’s why you need to place the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then on the person for whom you are providing care.

Most of us learn the hard way.  We get burned out and emotionally or physically incapacitated, and then we start taking care of numero uno.  Do yourself – and your loved one – a favor.  If you’ve been ignoring the signs of stress that are enveloping you, stop being such a hero and start taking care of yourself.  You will benefit from such care, and so will your loved one.

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4 thoughts on “Caregiver Stress – no one is immune

    CaregiverCurio said:
    October 31, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Really appreciate this blog. Caregiver stress is something many are aware of, but maybe not the levels or outcomes of that continual stress. We really do have to find ways to take care of ourselves and put the time in for that. It’s a really hard juggling act, but we have to do it for our own mental and physcial health, too. Please visit my blog at: http://caregivercurio.wordpress.com/. I’d love to cross/share information with you. Thanks!

      boomer98053 responded:
      October 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      I am a Follower of Caregiver Curio so I have been reading your articles and am SO impressed by your content. It’s great to have your Blog as a caregiver resource for the masses.

    Don Desonier said:
    October 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    This is a great article. It shows that regardless of our status in life, profession, skills or expertise, being a caregiver is the great equalizer. We who are or who have been caregivers understand the tremendous toll it can take on us if we don’t take care of ourselves. In caring for my wife who had early-onset dementia, I learned quickly I could not go it alone. I reached out to family and friends. I made sure I gave my needs high priority. Only then could I be totally and authentically present to my wife’s interests. So to my fellow caregivers: Take a breath and take a break! You deserve it.

      boomer98053 responded:
      October 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Well said! Caregivers out there – listen to those who have been through it and learn from them. What a gift their caregiving experience can be for those who are active caregivers.

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