Family care-giving can be one of the most stressful jobs possible. It is often life changing in its dimension and demands. As a caregiver in my volunteer job, I know there are huge rewards gained in giving oneself in the care for others. This can be true for family caregivers as well. The difference for family caregivers, however, is that they are sometimes with their family members 24/7. There are also many over-layers and deep personal connections with the person for whom they are caring as a family caregiver. This causes emotional and physical stress which has the potential to cause health problems down the road for the caregiver.
Caring Bridge is a wonderful site online which allows people with health issues to write about their health issues in order to keep a number of people updated as to what is currently transpiring in their changing health situation. My sister, who has been fighting cancer, uses that site regularly. Recently for some reason I was offered a free e-book from the organization which established the Caring Bridge site, The e-book notes signs of family caregiver stress and tips for handling the stress. I plan to share some of these signs of caregiver stress with you on my blog post this week. In another post I will list ways they suggest to cope with caregiver stress.
Physical signs they list which could suggest caregiver stress overload include constant fatigue, frequent headaches or other bodily aches. It could also involve rapid weight loss or gain or abuse of medications. Emotional signs of too much caregiver stress can include such things as moodiness, irritation, anger, hopelessness, and sadness. Sometimes family caregivers also lose interest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies and feel lonely and isolated from other people.
The long term effects of family care-giving can further cause mental issues such as short-term memory loss, anxiety, and depression which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk for chronic disease in the caregiver. Besides the constant need for alertness and being on task in the role of being a family caregiver, caregiver stress is often complicated by financial strain, relationship role changes brought about by the illness of a family member, and the lack of rest for the caregiver.
As I said previously in this post, I will share some practical tips for dealing with caregiver stress suggested by the Caring Bridge e-book in an upcoming blog post. Today let me end with a Bible verse going through my mind, as I write this post. Jesus says to you and I in Matthew 11:28-30 in the New Testament of the Bible, "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Life is difficult. Family care-giving is difficult. Yet in the measure we can give the worries and anxieties to the Lord, not fret, and yoke ourselves to Him; the burdens are eased. The Lord wants us to leave our anxieties with Him and rest in Him. Then our burdens become lighter. He is carrying the heavy load for us. He knows what He is doing. We just have to trust Him.
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