Coping with caregiving stress
The caregivers work is complex and stressful. Not coping with stress effectively can lead to health and well-being decline.
Family caregivers of people with dementia experience greater stress than caregivers of people with other medical conditions. Those who are especially exposed to stress are women, spouses of people with dementia, people experiencing additional stressful life events, experiencing health problems and those with a family history of mental illness. What’s more, low quality of carer’s and caretaker’s relationship, dissatisfaction with life, low self-esteem and high level of carer’s neuroticism may make the care burden worse.
Some of these factors are beyond our control, but we can work on others. What can we do?
First of all, let’s care for our relationships with our loved ones. They are the most important source of the so-called “resources” to deal with stress. Getting support from friends and family, being able to talk about your emotions and being comforted by them gives you the strength to deal with stress. It is from our relationships that we get emotional or informational support, but also thanks to such help, we receive reinforcement and a sense of value.
Moreover, enjoying life and high self-esteem that is connected to serve as a great buffer against stress.
On top of that, research shows that people who have goals in their lives and strive to achieve them (and thus lead a life full of meaningful activities) are more resilient. The fact is, the more fulfilled we are in life, the better carers we are.
Brodaty, H. i Donkin, M. (2009). Family caregivers of people with dementia. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 11(2), 217–228.