When to Know to Ask for Help
Many times, family caregivers extend themselves so far that they forget to care for their own health as they care for the health of their loved one. This impulse is understandable as being a caregiver is a big responsibility that involves a lot of sacrifices, hard work, and time. But it is important to remember that when you forget to care for yourself, you can negatively impact those around you, including your loved one.
It is not always clear to determine when you are reaching a “danger zone” regarding your health. Is the stress you are feeling just a normal part of caregiving, or are you endangering your physical and mental well-being? Below, we will share some common signs and symptoms that indicate you might need to slow down. We will also try to suggest some ways to address these problems after.
You may need to ask for help when:
- You’re feeling tired every single day: If you feel like you are never well-rested when you wake up or if you go through every day in a tired haze, then you may need to reach out for help. This also means that you need to check your sleeping habits. Are you sleeping less during the night? This can be a telltale sign that something is not right.
- Your mood is changing: If you notice that you are feeling more anxious or depressed, then this can be a sign that you need to slow it down. Sometimes it is hard to tell what are “normal” levels of anxiety and depression, since having a busy schedule is not necessarily inconsistent with feeling a bit anxious or stressed at times. We suggest that you be very mindful of your mood and if you are feeling particularly low or anxious for a few days in a row, then it may be time to find a solution.
- Changes in appetite and/or weight: Stress can sometimes impact your eating habits and weight. Some people are less hungry some people eat a lot more. This is just one sign to watch out for.
- Getting easily annoyed: This is closely connected to your mood. If you find that you are snapping at your spouse or children (or even colleagues at work), then you may be taking on too much at once.
- Anger: Perhaps you are mad at yourself for assuming such responsibilities. Perhaps you are mad at your loved one even when nothing is their fault. This is a normal emotion to experience, and you should not feel guilty. But also know that this can indicate that you need to lessen your load.
So, what can you do? Fortunately, you do not have to be left alone. You have several options to tackle this wide array of problems. The first option we suggest is to address your mental and physical health first. For instance, see if your healthcare plan allows you to consult affordably with a counselor. Psychological counselors are excellent resources since they can act as a neutral third party to help you think through solutions and coping mechanisms for difficult situations. Secondly, take time to care for your body. This means eating healthy and doing some physical activity. Schedule an hour out of the day to go for a walk, jog, or swim. If you used to like going to the gym, then go back! Exercise is correlated with increases in mood and benefits to your mental health.
The next piece of advice we have is to consider finding professional assistance with your caregiving needs. This can mean calling a nurse registry like ElderCare at Home who can help refer professionally trained caregivers to help you care for your loved one. Professional assistance can give you much needed time away from the heavy obligations you have as a family caregiver. As a result, you can clear your head and take care of the things that you need to do for yourself.
If you have any other questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!