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Caregiver Issues / Stress

Caring for children and elderly family members @ TeQuillas Respite Care, Caregiver issues can affect both professional caregivers who are paid to provide care to individuals in their homes or in a health care setting and unpaid individuals who provide care to a loved one, friend, or family member. These issues may include stress, isolation, and fatigue, to name a few. It can be rewarding to care for a loved one or family member, but it can also be stressful, traumatic, or otherwise difficult.

Those who become stressed or anxious or experience other mental health issues as a result of providing long-term care may find the services of a mental health professional to be helpful.

CAREGIVER STRESSES AND ISSUES Caregivers can generally be divided into two groups: one group includes caregivers (usually unpaid) who provide care to a loved one or friend who is ill, disabled, or experiencing symptoms of aging. This care may be temporary, such as when a spouse or partner has surgery, or long-term, such as when a child experiences physical, intellectual, or emotional disabilities. Care is generally provided in the home of the person being cared for but may also be provided in the caregiver's home, especially when long-term care is necessary.

The second group consists of caregivers who are paid to provide care in a person's home or in a long-term care setting. They might be professionally trained and hired through an agency or an acquaintance employed by family members. Both paid and unpaid caregivers may experience physical, mental, and emotional strain as a result of their caretaking. Because caregivers often become attached to the person they are caring for, it may be distressing if that person's health further declines.

Recent statistics show 80% of long-term care in the United States is provided by unpaid or informal caregivers. Of these, 61% are women, most have reached middle age, and 59% also have jobs. Though caregiver stress can affect anyone providing care, research shows 75% of caregivers experiencing significant strain are women. Family caregivers have been shown to be less likely than people who do not provide care to attend to their own health and self-care needs, making it more likely that their own well-being will be negatively affected. Caregivers between the ages of 66 and 96 who experience stress have a 63% higher risk of dying within four years than non-caregivers in the same age range.

Thirty-five percent of caregivers find it difficult to make time for themselves, while 29% have trouble managing stress, and another 29% report difficulty balancing work and family issues. Some other common issues that caregivers may experience include, but are not limited to: Anger and frustration: It can be distressing to put one's life on hold to care for someone else or to take care of a person who is irritable, becomes upset easily, or wanders away often.

Anxiety and fear: A caregiver may worry about financial difficulties, their own health and mortality, or the decline and eventual death of a loved one. Depression: Between 40% and 70% of family caregivers experience symptoms of depression. Isolation, loneliness, and lack of self-care might all contribute to the development of depression symptoms. Grief and sadness: Watching a loved one's heath decline rapidly can be a deeply affecting experience. Guilt: A caregiver may feel guilty for not being able to provide better care or for not being able to pay as much attention to other areas of life. Isolation and loneliness: Unpaid caregivers may spend all of their free time caring for another person and have no time to themselves. They may have to reduce their work hours or adapt their lifestyles and personal relationships. Individuals who are unable to interact with others or spend time tending to their own needs may experience emotional distress as a result. Physical strain, illness, and exhaustion: Caregivers may find themselves without time to exercise, eat properly, or get enough sleep. Those who care for others are also more likely to have a weaker immune system and spend more time sick than non-caregivers. Caregivers are statistically more likely to experience stress if they are female, have depression or are socially isolated, or if they have financial difficulties. Living with the person one cares for, spending a high number of hours providing care, and difficulty with coping or problem-solving are also risk factors for caregiver stress and burnout. THE SANDWICH GENERATION Individuals who provide care for an aging parent while also raising their own children have come to be known as the "Sandwich Generation." Many members of this group also have full-time employment, but they may find it necessary to reduce their work hours or leave their jobs altogether in order to tend to their parents' needs. This can add to stress by creating financial difficulties.

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