As the average age of our population climbs and hospital stays become shorter, more family members find themselves taking on the role of caregiver. Sometimes it is a short-term responsibility while a senior loved one recovers from a surgery or injury. At other times it is because an older loved one’s health is declining.
Juggling family, career, and caregiving responsibilities is difficult. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. This is why advocates for the aging worked hard to pass the RAISE Family Caregiver Act. Congress passed the bill in 2018 and the president signed it into law in 2019.
While advocates work on ways to meet the goals of the family caregiver support act, it’s important for caregivers to learn to recognize and manage the signs of overload.
Common Warning Signs of Caregiver Overload
A few of the most common signs that it is time for a weary family caregiver to seek help include:
- Crying easily or getting angry quickly
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Overreacting to unimportant stressors
- Unintentionally gaining or losing weight
- Developing new health issues, like stomach problems or headaches
- Picking up bad habits, like drinking or smoking
- Losing contact with friends and other family
- Feeling anxious or agitated much of the time
Do these warning signs describe your situation?
If so, it likely means you need to take a hard look at your schedule and make changes.
Coping with Caregiver Burnout
When stress and anxiety take over your days, it’s vital to protect your own health. Here are a few suggestions to help you get back on track:
- Explore local respite care: Respite care is usually available from in-home care agencies, as well as at most assisted living and nursing care communities. It is designed to give caregivers a break. Agencies like Griswold have experienced caregivers who can visit seniors or those with disabilities, either on a short-term or routine basis. They can help with personal care, housekeeping, grocery shopping, and other daily tasks.
- Be mindful of your diet: When you are rushed for time, one of the first things that might suffer is your diet. That’s unfortunate, because when you are under stress, good nutrition is more important than ever. Take advantage of grab-and-go foods at the local grocery store. While the extra cost might seem like an indulgence, it’s essential to make sure you have the energy your body needs. Bagged lettuces, prepared vegetable trays, grilled chicken from the deli section, Greek yogurt, and fresh fruits are a few quick, healthy choices. You might also want to explore home-delivered meal companies, such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.
- Engage in stress-reducing activities: Exercising 30 minutes a day might seem impossible when you are stretched thin. Taking time to do so, however, will reduce stress and give you more energy to power through your day. Fortunately, you can break up your exercise into smaller time increments and still reap the same rewards. For example, take a 15-minute walk in the morning and practice 15 minutes of yoga in the evening. Both are good for your heart and mind.
Family caregivers may also soon find relief through the newly passed RAISE Family Caregivers Act.
What Is the RAISE Family Caregivers Act?
The purpose of the RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage) Act is to help relatives and partners who provide medical, household, and financial assistance to senior loved ones or people who have disabilities. The overarching goal is to ensure seniors and those with disabilities receive quality care no matter where they reside: assisted living communities, nursing homes, or private residences.
The family caregiver act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop, maintain, and update a National Family Caregiving Strategy. As part of this strategy, resources and educational opportunities must be provided to family caregivers in the United States. RAISE also requires HHS to create a Family Caregiving Advisory Council to offer advice on how to identify, recognize, and support family caregivers.
Griswold Home Health
As one of the nation’s largest providers of in-home care, Griswold is dedicated to helping older adults and those with disabilities remain as independent as possible in their own homes. Contact the location nearest you to learn more!