Do You Know a Stressed-Out Caregiver?
Most of us probably know a family caregiver. The friend, neighbor, the knitting club member that has taken on the role of caring for a seriously ill loved one. In fact, about 41.8 million Americans have provided unpaid care to another adult in the past 12 months.1 Family caregivers are everywhere. Maybe you yourself are a family caregiver.
When you think about the family caregivers you know, have you noticed any changes in them? Do they seem overwhelmed and less engaged in your friendship or relationship? If so, there may be a good reason. On average, family caregivers spend about 20 hours per week caring for others, but many reach up to 40 hours or more a week on top of their full-time jobs! And they’re in danger of becoming overwhelmed. Here are some important signs to look for in yourself or the caregivers you know …
Signs a caregiver needs more support
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Feeling tired and run down
- Difficulty sleeping
- New or worsening health problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Eating, smoking, or drinking more
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Cutting back on leisure activities
These are signs that the caregiver needs a little extra support. Most caregivers don’t want to be a bother or appear needy, so they often won’t ask for help. But there are simple things you can do that could make a big difference.
Simple ways to support family caregivers
- Listen. Caregivers give their time up to take care of another, and simply listening to your friend could help reduce their stress.
- Don’t Judge. Don’t second-guess a caregiver’s decision. Only support the decisions they make. As their friend, they need your shoulder to lean on.
- Offer Help. Caregivers will typically be reluctant to ask for help, but they can always use it. Sometimes this means simply offering to bring a meal over, to walk their dog, to wash their car, or to mow their grass. As the friend, you may not always know how to help, but by asking whether you can do some of these things, the offer becomes more sincere.
- Let Them Know You Care. Call to let them know you’re thinking about them. Pick up a heartfelt greeting card. Write a short thinking-of-you email. Simple gestures mean a lot.
If you’re a stressed-out family caregiver yourself, check out our post Dealing with Caregiver Stress for more tips about managing stress.
Delaware Hospice can also help through our continuum of care programs. Our services support both the patient and their family caregivers. We can add an extra layer of support to the care they are already providing.
If you know someone who seems overwhelmed with their caregiving role (or you’re an overwhelmed caregiver yourself!), we’re happy to reach out and see if our services are the answer. Just give us a call at 1-800-838-9800, and we’ll be there.1 AARP Public Policy Institute. 2020. Caregiving in the U.S. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2020/05/full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states.doi.10.26419-2Fppi.00103.001.pdf