The Importance of Self-Care for Caretakers
By Marie Miguel
Humans were born to take care of each other. It is just what we do. A caregiver is anyone who provides service to another to help make their life easier. Anyone who has a loved one with a chronic or severe illness and needs help with everyday activities such as dressing, eating, and walking is also considered a caretaker. You may have to spend all day, every day and all night as well taking care of and worrying about your loved one.
It is Just Natural… Or Is It?
Taking care of a loved one may seem like just a natural thing to do but doing this is the hardest type of job there is. Harder than taking care of other people who are not loved ones because you are typically doing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nothing like if you had a job taking care of someone where you get to leave after your eight hours are up. Also, you do not get paid to take care of your loved one, so you usually have to have an outside job as well to be able to afford to provide for you and your loved ones. It is a difficult job and can take a toll on you physically as well as mentally.
Stress and anxiety can cause physical as well as mental health issues. Sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning may seem like too much to handle. Knowing you will have to be responsible for someone all day every day is just difficult. Just like having a newborn baby but even more stressful because this person is an adult and can talk, many times not having anything nice to say to you if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. You may end up with depression or an anxiety disorder that can create even more problems.
Symptoms of Depression or Anxiety
You may start feeling overwhelmed, sad, or guilty or just want to ignore everyone and everything. These are signs of depression and anxiety and you need to take care of yourself before you can continue to take care of someone else. After all, how can you take care of them if you are not in good health, mentally or physically? According to studies, if you are taking care of a spouse between the ages of 66 and 96, your chance of dying is 63% higher than people who are not caregivers. How is that possible? How does stress make actually kill you?
First of all, stress can weaken your immune system, which leaves you more susceptible to illnesses and cancer. You are more likely to catch illnesses such as influenza and even the common cold. That may seem like it is not a big deal but when you are taking care of someone 24/7, any kind of illness can affect you both a great deal. Especially if you also work outside the home. Caring for loved ones you live with also causes sleep deprivation, which can also make you more susceptible to illnesses.
Take Care of Yourself Too
So, what can you do? Take care of yourself. Of course, you probably do not have time to go see a mental health professional. Not with having to take care of your loved one 24/7. But with online therapy with betterhelp.com, you can talk to a professional without an appointment. In fact, you do not even need to leave your house.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.