A Caregiver Stress Test

Posted on August 27, 2013 by ecrBayArea in Caregiver Education

What is a Caregiver exactly? The Department of Health and Human Services defines it as “a person, either paid or voluntary, who helps an older person with the activities of daily living, health care, financial matters, guidance, companionship and social interaction. A caregiver can provide more than one aspect of care. Most often the term refers to a family member or friend who aids the older person.”

“Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others” is something you hear each time a flight is taken. A similar concept should be used when taking care of an elderly parent or other loved one. It’s difficult enough to manage our own lives without the added responsibilities of providing in home care and managing various aspects of someone else’s life as well. There is proven research showing that caregivers are less healthy than non-caregivers, both physically and mentally. This research is based on higher hospitalization rates, higher death rates and higher levels of depression. Additionally, those who have other responsibilities, including being a spouse, parent and/or employee are likely to deal with more everyday stress.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), Caregivers are often so concerned with caring for their relative’s needs that they lose sight of their own
well-being. Below is a Caregiver Stress Test which will help determine where you stand:

Caregiver Stress Test

Score each item as:
1-Never 2-Once or twice 3-Rarely 4-Sometimes 5-Often 6-Usually 7-Always

In caring for a loved one, how often do you have the following experiences:

__Feeling resentful __Feeling trapped __Being tired, not sleeping enough

__Feeling weary __Feeling troubled __Poor appetite or overeating

__Feeling hopeless __Feeling useless __Being physically exhausted

__Feeling disillusioned __Feeling anxious __Feeling “burned out”

__Being unhappy __Feeling rejected __Being utterly drained of feeling

___TOTAL SCORE*

*If your score is 60 or above, the stress associated with taking care of your loved one is beginning to take its toll.

*If your score is 90 or above, you are living with caregiver burnout.

You are not alone! In my day-to-day work, I personally witness caregiver stress as a common phenomenon, but the good news is that you can manage caregiver stress and improve your physical and mental health to benefit yourself, your parents and others who depend on you. Following are some options to consider:

  • Exercise – You need the strength to handle an aging parent and exercise is a great stress reliever.
  • Healthy Diet – Having three balance meals a day is a minimum necessity.
  • Regular Check-ups – When caring for someone else, you can easily ignore the signs of your own health.
  • Professional Home Care – Ongoing help from professional caregivers or just temporary relief (respite care).
  • Assisted Living Homes or Communities – Safety should be the number one priority for your loved one. There are various affordable options available.