Mental and Physical Health Impacts of Caregiving

The self-reported rates of anxiety and stress are skyrocketing today.  Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released The Impact of Caregiving on Mental and Physical Health, Harnessing Data, For the Health of America. According to this research, our younger and minority caregivers are carrying the heaviest burdens today.  This is no time for us to sacrifice the health of future generations. CNN did a great story on this crisis featuring Alex Drane co-founder and CEO of Archangels.

I take part in many Facebook caregiver groups.  There is a definite pattern from those of us who find and support each other through our care journey.  Our caregiver tribe shares with raw honesty in these posts.  The responses range from concrete actions, notes of support, virtual hugs, and lots of prayers.  I know these groups play an essential role in many caregivers who feel trapped and isolated today.

“I’m at the end of my rope”

“I have no one to talk to”

“I can’t take this for one more day”

“This situation is hopeless”

“I’m afraid I am going to hurt someone”

Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Caregivers are suffering from Traumatic Stress Syndrome (TSS).  Caregiving can be akin to the cumulative trauma of war, violence, natural disasters, and other life-altering events.  Charles Figley (1995) developed this theory as “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events” according to The American Institute of Stress.  In fact, I believe that our first responders and health care workers as our family caregivers are suffering today.

Impact of Pandemic on Caregiving

New research released by the University of Pittsburgh National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support illuminates the life of caregivers through this pandemic.  An alarming 63% of the respondents indicated that COVID has increased their daily chores to ward off the virus. The emotional toll of providing more care is an issue for 56% of these caregivers.  This study warns that the burdens on younger caregivers and vulnerable people with emotional and behavioral problems are at increased risk.

How Can You Care for Others If you Don’t Care For Yourself?

Mother Teresa required members of the Brothers and Sister of Charity to withdraw from service on regularly to renew and restore themselves. Where did we get off the track?  How did we set the expectation for 24/7 duty in service to anyone without the support of others?

Our tribe has too much roadkill already.   The care journey needs to feed us too.  Neglecting you, the one you barely recognize in the mirror is just as important as your loved one.  Start with easy wins.   How about 15 minutes of quiet time each day.  Fifteen minutes to rest your mind, breath deep, and relax.  Next, use the CreditForCaring Advanced Resource Finder to find help.  Do not let the bureaucratic roadblocks defeat you.  We are here to help.