We hear a tremendous amount about the physical and cognitive issues that are facing seniors today. What we are much less likely to discuss openly, however, are the challenges that are facing caregivers. Caregiver depression is considered by many a silent epidemic that is greatly threatening the health and well-being of those have dedicated their lives providing elderly care for their aging loved ones. Most caregivers will experience some degree of depression and stress throughout the course of their caregiving relationship, and many will continue to suffer from these conditions even after the caregiving relationship has ended. Studies indicate that up to 41 percent of former caregivers who provided ongoing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease continue to experience symptoms of depression for three or more years after the death of their loved one. Female caregivers are much more likely to experience more frequent and more severe symptoms of caregiver depression than men.
Part of being an effective and compassionate caregiver is understanding how to take care of yourself. If you suffer from even mild depression, you can find yourself less capable of providing truly effective, nurturing and loving care for your elderly loved one. Taking care of yourself and making sure that you stay physically and emotionally healthy is key to assuring the health and wellbeing of your loved one.
Here are some tips for preventing and managing caregiver depression:
- Be aware of the symptoms. Look for dramatic changes in weight or sleep patterns. If you notice these symptoms, confront them as quickly as possible.
- Find a community support group for caregivers. These support groups offer emotional encouragement and advice throughout your caregiver relationship. It can help tremendously just to know that you are not alone and that there are others you can rely on when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Plan one day per week to take care of yourself. Whether you hire a home care services companion or have another family member step in to provide care for your loved one, make sure that you establish a reliable source of respite care so you can take this time to relax.
- Choose a favorite activity and plan to participate in it regularly. Just knowing you have something to look forward to can help prevent and ease depression.
- Find solace and support in your marriage. Unfortunately, many caregivers take out their stress and depression on their partners. Instead, allow your partner to comfort and strengthen you.
Care Connection provides senior care in DeWitt, MI. For more information about our caregiver services, please call us today at (517) 489-2489.