sad-senior-woman-next-to-christmas-treeOne in four Americans are considered caregivers of elders and many of those are in the ‘sandwich generation’, still caring for minor children and elder adults at the same time. With the holidays upon us, anxiety and depression spike among adults in general while the season of celebration, gift giving and merry making puts even greater stress on the family caregiver who most often is the person in charge of making the holidays festive for everyone.

“A recent stress test conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network demonstrated that of the family caregivers who participated, more than three-fourths (77 percent) reported their aging loved one’s needs to be overwhelming, 90 percent said they have episodes of feeling anxious or irritable, 77 percent say caregiving is taking a toll on their family lives, and 56 percent seem to become ill more frequently”

These feelings are exacerbated by the extra pressure to provide both elders and children with their happy holiday experience and one often doesn’t realize that their own health and well-being are suffering.

During the holidays and all year round watch for signs of caregiver stress like:

Feeling tired most of the time
Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
Sleeping too much or too little
Gaining or losing a lot of weight
Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety and may not get enough physical activity or eat a balanced diet, increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

There are a number of things you can do right away to care for yourself so you can care for your family.

Take a break – personal time – have a cup of Chamomile tea, go for a walk.
Don’t forget to Breath
Exercise – yoga and/or meditate
Fill your space with scents that calm you
Ask for help, get connected, and utilize support groups or local social services
Delegate responsibilities to family, friends or outsourced professionals
Eat well, reduce sugar, caffeine, and alcohol intake
Get a massage or manicure pedicure
Remember to laugh
Set personal goals, take care of yourself, and see your doctor

Green Hill provides caregivers a much needed break with Staycation retreats for elders, a short term visit with no obligation where your elder is safe and cared for, socialized, fed healthy and delicious meals and snacks, and can participate in many at-will activities. For information on booking a Staycation for your elder call 973-731-2300. Book for two weeks and the second week is free!

Below are some resource sites for more information for caregivers of elders.