Caregiving can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful at times, overwhelming for some caregivers. SPD client Sia Jin Zhu, whose sister is her full-time caregiver, has read on and observed some of the caregiver’s stress through her own personal experience.
What Are Some Common Caregiving Stress?
1) Physical Aches and Pain
Like my sister, some of the caregivers experience muscle aches and back pain as they frequently have to manually lift and transfer the care recipient, for instance, from the bed to the wheelchair. It is important to receive proper training on such transferring techniques as using incorrect methods over a prolonged period could lead to inflammation in the joints or muscles.
2) Sleep Issues
Some caregivers may not get enough sleep as they could often be awakened by their dependant who requires assistance at night in toileting, repositioning or medications.
On the other hand, some caregivers do experience insomnia due to caregiving-related stress, such as anxiety and the constant worrying of their dependant’s well-being and health. However, it not advisable for those affected by insomnia to resort to consuming sleeping pills or alcohol on a long-term basis to help them sleep better.
You could read more about getting quality sleep here: Are You Getting Quality Sleep?
3) Financial Stress
It is often not easy for a caregiver to juggle between work and caregiving duties, henceforth some caregivers may quit their job to care for their dependant.
In some cases, the dependant may not be eligible for certain subsidies or grants, therefore the caregivers would have to pay for their dependant’s mounting medical bills and caregiving supplies on their own.
With a loss in income and many bills to pay, it becomes a financial strain to the caregivers or the family.
4) Being Afraid to Ask for Help
Some caregivers may feel overwhelmed with caregiver stress, but they would rather keep it to themselves than approaching someone to assist them. This could be because they feel ashamed for being incapable to care for their dependant or are afraid of getting rejected by someone else.
5) Caregiver’s Burnout
Caregiver burnout can occur when they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially, or when they do not get the help they need.
Fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression are some emotions that “burned out” caregivers may experience. They may also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their loved ones they are caring for.
How to Cope with Caregiver Stress?
a) Prioritise your daily routine and try breaking a major task into smaller steps so that it is more manageable for you.
b) It is important to take periodic breaks so that you can continue journeying with your loved ones. Do consider respite care options if you need to take a break from caregiving or when you need some assistance in caregiving occasionally.
c) Get connected with other caregivers by joining support groups to exchange practical tips in caregiving and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. You could find out the available support groups in Singapore here: Support Groups
d) Try seeking professional help or approaching a counsellor for guidance if you prefer to get your issues addressed on a more personal level. They could help you to cope with your emotions and stress level better.
e) Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly. For example, certain foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, Chia seeds and walnuts can help to reduce the risk of inflammation. Vitamin D, magnesium and potassium can help to boost your immune system and promote healthy bones.
f) Create a monthly budget and stick to it as much as possible.
- Minimise unnecessary expenditure and allocate a sum of money in the event of a mishap, for example, a major illness or an accident.
- There are several financial assistance schemes and grants available in the community to help alleviate the financial burden of caregiving. One such grant is the Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) which is a $200 monthly cash payout to support caregivers whose dependant requires assistance to perform with at least 3 or more Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
There may be other challenges experienced by caregivers that are not highlighted here, but do note to take good care of yourself, so that you could offer good care to your loved ones who need your care!
- The Challenges Facing a Family Caregiver, American Senior Communities, 14 October 2015
- Common Caregiving Problems, American Psychological Association
- Recognizing Caregiver Burnout, WebMD
- Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself, Mayo Clinic
- Looking After Yourself, Agency for Integrated Care
- Getting Respite, Agency for Integrated Care
- What to know about omega-3 fatty acids, Medical News Today
- Older Adults: 9 Nutrients You May Be Missing, WebMD