Life can change in an instant and when a loved one suddenly becomes too ill to look after themselves, you could be unexpectedly thrust into the role of caregiver, with little or no time to prepare physically and mentally for the challenge ahead.
It may well be that there is a claim to pursue for compensation through someone like mbpersonalinjurylaw.com, which might help with resources when that is settled. Whatever the circumstances, you could probably do with some tips and strategies to help you cope in your new role as a caregiver.
Becoming a caregiver
There are numerous different scenarios where you could become a caregiver but whatever the circumstances that put you into the situation where you need to care for another person in need, such as an elderly parent, relative or even a disabled child, you will no doubt discover very quickly that this is a role which can be rewarding and stressful in equal measure.
The daily duties you undertake in your new role of caregiver, will largely depend on what level of support the person requires in order to carry out their normal routine.
You might be needed to help wash and bathe the person, help them with cooking food and eating, and you might even be called upon to help with any health or financial decisions that need to be made on their behalf.
About a third of us will become informal caregivers at some point in their lives and that figure is only likely to increase when you look at the demographics and see how many seniors there will in the coming years, many of whom will need some sort of care help.
Stress is never far away
The fact that caregiver stress is defined as a very real issue, will tell you that as a result of the emotional and physical strain of caregiving, you could soon find yourself vulnerable to the various symptoms, unless you develop a strategy that helps you to deal with the stress.
In general, caregivers do tend to be more susceptible to unusually higher levels of stress than other people who are not tasked with caring for a loved one. The reasons for this are many, but when you consider that you may literally be on-call for a large part of the day and find some of the caring tasks physically and emotionally challenging, it is perfectly understandable that your own physical and mental health might come under pressure.
A fundamental piece of advice that would be well worth heeding when you suddenly find yourself in the role of caregiver, is that it is important to take care of yourself, if you are going to be in a fit state to be able to take care of anyone else.
Spotting the danger signs
Far too many caregivers are often slow in recognizing or acknowledging some of the classic warning signs that suggest you may be suffering from caregiver stress.
If you are experiencing emotions that make you feel overwhelmed and possibly alone and isolated, as well as believing that others within your family group are not helping, these are just some of the common pointers that suggest you may be stressed.
If your weight is fluctuating and you are not enjoying a regular sleep pattern, or perhaps you have lost interest in some of the regular activities that you use to enjoy before you took up the caregiver role, these are also danger signs that suggest you may well be experiencing caregiver stress.
It is obviously a major upheaval in your life to suddenly take on the role of looking after someone else, but if you are showing any of the mentioned symptoms or displaying other signs of a problem, such as becoming easily agitated or feeling physically unwell with headaches and an aching body, you should talk to your doctor and also reach out to other family members.
Adjusting requires a degree of realism
If you are unexpectedly cast in the role of caregiver in a relationship that used to be an equal partnership, that can obviously be very distressing.
However difficult it may be to accept, it is critical that you avoid living in denial and trying to pretend that everything in your life is just as it used to be. One of the best ways to try and come to terms with your new role as a caregiver and prepare for the journey ahead, is accept what has happened and give yourself some time to properly grieve for the loss of your old life.
This acceptance that things have substantially changed will definitely help you to improve your odds of avoiding or at least coping better with any stress that you are experiencing.
Edward Young is the main carer for his ageing parents. He writes about eldercare and being a caregiver; sharing support and practical advice online.