Working as a caregiver for the elderly, disabled, or ill is a great way to give back to your community while providing comfort and an easier way of life to those in need.
While working as a caregiver is rewarding in itself, it can also quickly become stressful and overwhelming on the caregiver themselves.
Knowing how to properly combat caregiver stress and various health challenges you are likely to face as a caregiver is essential to prevent burnout and feeling discouraged from helping those who have a genuine need for the services you provide.
Caregiving Challenges You are Likely to Encounter
Caregivers provide immense amounts of time and energy to patients they care for each day. Even if you feel as if your career choice is rewarding, you are likely to run into caregiving challenges that make you feel less-than-thrilled to continue moving forward with your position.
Some of the most common challenges you are likely to encounter as a caregiver include:
- Feeling Less Than Appreciated: Working with the elderly, disabled, or individuals who are mentally or physically ill can be difficult when you do not feel appreciated or needed at times. It is not always possible for patients to express manners or their appreciation, leaving caregivers feeling less-than and unworthy of their positions.
- No Progress: If an individual you are caring for is not making any progress, you may begin to feel as if you are simply not good enough at doing your job–which is often far from the truth as those in need of caregivers may never make the progress you want for them.
- Social Isolation: Caregivers work long and arduous hours which can quickly become draining while transferring into the real world after workdays. Social isolation is common among caregivers who work full-time with specific patients. You may feel drained and unable to participate in common social outings or activities that were once a source of joy to you once you become extremely overwhelmed while on the job.
- Defiant Patients: Patients are not always easy to work with, especially those who are elderly or those who struggle with mental ailments. Working alone as a caregiver can feel frustrating and impossible at times, especially with patients who are unable or unwilling to work with you.
Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Stress
Knowing how to identify the signs and symptoms associated with caregiving stress is essential to prevent burnout and feeling as if you no longer belong in the career you have chosen.
Some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of being stressed out as a caregiver include:
- Feeling Overwhelmed: Even if you are familiar with high-stress work environments, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with your job once you become too stressed.
- Isolation: Feeling alone, alienated, and isolated by friends, family members, and even coworkers is common when working long hours as a full-time caregiver.
- Body Aches: If you notice an increase in the number of headaches you experience and if your body begins to ache after a long and stressful day, you are likely overwhelmed with your position.
- Weight Gain/Loss: If you do not have underlying health issues or a metabolic disorder but you have been rapidly gaining or losing weight, this is likely to due to increased stress in the workplace and in your everyday life.
- Increased Anxiety: Feeling anxious, worried, irritable, and sad more often and without warning is a sign that you are overstressed.
- Extreme Fatigue: Do you feel tired even after getting enough rest for the night? Are you experiencing extreme fatigue that is not like you in combination with stress, anxiety, and depression? You are likely experiencing caregiving stress .
- Loss of Interests in Hobbies and Socialization: Experiencing bouts of depression and social isolation are extremely common when an individual becomes overworked and too stressed. Working as a caregiver demands your time and energy, which can quickly turn into a loss of interest in hobbies and activities that were once a source of joy for you.