Recently a patient came in with some physical challenges. Being a caregiver can be very rewarding. It can also be very stressful. With this stress comes a fatigue like no other. We are happy to help because we love or care for this person who is often a parent or other close relative.
Taking care of an aging or ill family member can be very rewarding for some. They feel good about lending a hand with the health of their loved one as well as making sure they are comfortable. It is an act of love and kindness and their loved one is grateful for the option of special care from a family member.
For others, it can be a challenge. Perhaps the person they are caring for or other family members are unhappy with the choices being made. For some they are the only ones who are taking on this role or responsibility and it is a thankless job.
Regardless, it can be a stress and can cause fatigue mentally, physically as well as emotionally. It can affect the body in ways you would least expect. I have patients that come in with seemingly random aches, pains or health issues. Together we find that often, it is a side effect from the role they have taken on.
The stress that a caregiver undergoes can manifest itself in physical ways as well. In fact, is very commonly the caregiver can experience back pain and headaches. Being a caregiver can affect our organs as well as our absorption of vital vitamins and minerals. There have been more cases of cancer and heart disease amongst caregivers than ever before.
One of the things I recommend to my patients who are caring for others is to learn some coping and stress management techniques. These can be useful when things get to be too much. Stretching and meditation can be calming. The B.E.S.T. Technique (Bio-Energetic Synchronization Technique) has been found to be very helpful with patients and they are able to get past the physical setbacks that can occur.
Having a support system is imperative. Some have the support of their family, others are part of a support groups. These can be in person or online. Many find the most valuable aspect of participating in a group like this, is knowing they are not alone. However other benefits include learning from the experience of others.
Taking care of ourselves is also very important. Remember that it’s ok to put yourself first sometimes. It will help you stay healthy for the tasks that need to be accomplished. Get plenty of rest and stay physically active. Taking small frequent breaks will also give you the energy to continue to give. And a reward of sorts is always helpful to keep us going.
Perhaps you are the caregiver or maybe it’s someone else you thought of when you read this. Either way, it’s good to know that there are things that we can do to help. If you are the caregiver, please take some time for yourself and schedule an appointment with me. If you did think of someone else, please forward this to them. They will appreciate someone thinking of them. Regardless, hopefully these tips will help you to look at caregiving in a new way.