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You are not alone

You are not alone! A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that more than half of those who provide major care for parents (and one in four who provide any care) experience stress and strain. Prolonged stress can have serious physical and emotional consequences.

Score each item on a scale of 1 through 7

1- (Never) 2- (Once or twice) 3- (Rarely) 4 - (Sometimes)

5- (Often) 6- (Usually) 7- (always)

How often do you have the following experiences in caring for a loved one?

Feeing Resentful___ Feeling trapped___ Feeling helpless___

Feeling anxious ___ Feeling rejected___ Utterly drained of feeling___

Feeling weary ___ Feeling troubled___ Feeling helpless ___

Feeling disillusioned___ Feeling useless___ Being unhappy ___

Poor appetite or overeating___ Being physically exhausted___

Being tired, not getting enough sleep ___ Feeling useless___

Feeling “Burned Out” ___ Total SCORE______

If your score is under 60, you're in good shape. If your total score is 60 or above, the stress of caring for your parent or loved one is beginning to take its toll. If it's 90 or above, you are living with caregiver burnout.

Take care of your health- Eat nutritious meals. Don't give in to stress-driven urges for sweets or overindulgence in alcohol. Get enough sleep; if you are awakened at night, try napping during the day to make up your sleep. If you have any symptoms of depression (extreme sadness, trouble concentrating, apathy, hopelessness, thoughts about death), see a doctor immediately. Depression is an illness that must be treated. Maintain social contacts- This may take advance planning, but it's worth it. Isolation increases stress, while having fun, laughing, and focusing on something besides your problems can help you keep your emotional balance. Don't feel guilty about needing time off -Remember that your loved one may benefit from having someone else around. Respite care (for some time off) by friends, relatives, or volunteers at home or an adult day center. Respite care can be paid for with Medicaid or private pay. Seek support- Some research suggests that bottling your feelings can harm your immune system and lead to physical illness. Try to find time for yourself to unwind when stresses pile up. Do something you enjoy, like reading, walking, or listening to music. Organize- Having a plan will give you more time for yourself. Steps to take: Set priorities and realistic goals. Make a list of what needs to be done (caregiving and other responsibilities) and get the most important things done first. Deal constructively with negative feelings- When resentful, think about how to change things. Recognize the anger-guilt-anger cycle and stop it immediately by forgiving yourself for being angry.

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