Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Caregiver stress

I found the site womenshealth.gov while doing a Twitter search and found an interesting page on that site called Caregiver Stress FAQ. I thought it was worth posting about here. One of the sections describes what caregiver stress looks like:

What is caregiver stress?

Caregiver stress is the emotional strain of caregiving. Studies show that caregiving takes a toll on physical and emotional health. Caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers. Limited research suggests that caregivers may also be more likely to have health problems like diabetes and heart disease than non-caregivers.

Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort, and work. Plus, most caregivers juggle caregiving with full-time jobs and parenting. In the process, caregivers put their own needs aside. Caregivers often report that it is difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition, and doctor's visits. So, caregivers often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated, and sad.

Caregivers for people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other kinds of dementia are particularly vulnerable to burnout. Research shows that most dementia caregivers suffer from depression and stress. Also, studies show that the more hours spent on caregiving, the greater the risk of anxiety and depression.

Women caregivers are particularly prone to feeling stress and overwhelmed. Studies show that female caregivers have more emotional and physical health problems, employment-related problems, and financial strain than male caregivers.

I know that bipolar disorder, low IQ and significant learning disabilities probably wouldn't be classified as "dementia," but I think that the effect they're having on the caregiver may be quite similar. Just a guess.

I explained it to my son tonight by telling him that his middle sister couldn't really help having seizures, and that in a way it's the same for his older sister, only instead of seizures she has confusion and rage.

I just have to TRY to remember that when I'm being barraged with flak. She can't stop it, and I can't force her to stop it by traditional parenting methods -- if that were the case, it would've been solved years ago.

Y'know, too, I think that for me it's seasonal. It's becoming cold, wet and gray outside... and I'm sitting here listening to the steady, pouring cold rain of fall. Even in the midst of the Christmas cheerfulness, I can feel myself being sucked into the grayness of the weather and the chill of the rain and the oblivion of the thick fog that so often blankets the world in the mornings while I drive to work. It makes me an easier target, I think.


I filled the CrockPot full of pinto beans & bacon, added a few spices, and turned it to "Low" before going to bed last night. I awoke several times during the night to an agonizingly lovely aroma, and when my alarm clock finally signaled to me that I should go ahead and get out of bed, I dashed into the kitchen for a taste.

WOW. That might be the best pot o' beans I've made, and that's saying something because I've made a few. This evening Rick made a pan of cornbread and made Isaac & Alice a bowl full of beans & cornbread, which they eagerly scarfed up. "More beans & cornbread please!" was the hue and cry from the kitchen tonight. (If you're wondering whether we ever feed Martha, be not afraid. She eats, but she usually makes her own meals. It's easier that way; trust me.) The pot of beans (which filled a 6 qt CrockPot) has all but disappeared, as if we were living in a house with six teenage boys.

Nothin' like a ginormous pot of pinto beans to crack the chill exterior of a rainy fall evening.

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