Regional Cancer Center ~ Erie, PA

What is caregiver stress?

Aug 16, 2013 | Posted in News, News and Tips for Healthy Living

What is caregiver stress?

In August, we honor all of the many caregivers that are with their loved ones day in and day out, helping their loved one deal with the many facets of the disease we know as cancer. Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort, and work. In the process of caregiving, many put their own needs aside. Caregivers often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated and sad. This is known as caregiver stress. Caregiver stress is the emotional strain of caregiving. Studies show that caregiving takes a toll on physical and emotional health. Caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers. Limited research suggests that caregivers may also be more likely to have health problems like diabetes and heart disease than non-caregivers.

Women caregivers are particularly prone to feeling stress and overwhelmed. Studies show that female caregivers have more emotional and physical health problems, employment-related problems, and financial strain than male caregivers. Other research shows that people who care for their spouses are more prone to caregiving-related stress than those who care for other family members.

It is important to note that caring for another person can also create positive emotional change. Aside from feeling stress, many caregivers say their role has had many positive effects on their lives. For example, caregivers report that caregiving has given them a sense of purpose. They say that their role makes them feel useful, capable and that they are making a difference in the life of a loved one.

What can caregivers do to help prevent or relieve their stress? Take the following steps to make YOUR health a priority:

  • Find out about community caregiving resources.
  • Ask for and accept help.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family. Social activities can help you feel connected and may reduce stress.
  • Find time for exercise most days of the week.
  • Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine.
  • Look to faith-based groups for support and help.
  • Join a support group for caregivers in your situation (like caring for a person with dementia). Many support groups can be found in the community or on the Internet.
  • See your doctor for a checkup. Talk to her about symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
  • Try to get enough sleep and rest.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat.
  • Ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin.
  • Take one day at a time.

Information taken from

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