Caregivers play a vital role in the lives of their wards, whether within the healthcare system or in their own homes. They provide them with physical, emotional and practical support, making sure that their needs are met. However, as rewarding as this role can be, caregiving can also be challenging – especially for those juggling with work and other commitments.
Often a hefty but underappreciated role, the stress a caregiver may face is a real problem. In a nationwide survey of caregivers for people with mental health issues, it was found that three in four needed temporary separation from the person they were caring for. With the ageing population in Singapore and the rise in chronic diseases abound, this role has become even more vital.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Taking care of another person can be demanding both physically and emotionally, and it’s important to be aware of the signs of caregiver stress and burnout.
Caregiver stress can manifest in many different ways. Some common signs include feeling overwhelmed or constantly anxious, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, irritability or mood swings, and feeling isolated or lonely.
Common Challenges by Caregivers
It’s no secret that being a caregiver can be stressful. After all, you’re responsible for another person’s well-being and often have to put their needs before your own.
Here are five everyday struggles of caregivers in Singapore and how to manage them:
1. Financial stress
Caregiving can be costly, especially if you have to give up your job to do it full-time. In addition to daily expenses, you may also need to pay for routine medical check-ups or even private transportation to the hospital.
If financial stress is getting to you, there are a few things you can do. First, try to create a budget and stick to it as much as possible. You can also look into government grants and financial assistance programmes. For example, the ElderShield programme provides up to $400 monthly payouts up to 72 months for eligible senior citizens in Singapore.
2. Emotional stress
Caring for a loved one can be emotionally draining. You may feel guilty, resentful, or even angry at times. It’s important to find ways to deal with these emotions so they don’t take over your life. If you are a caregiver for a palliative patient, you may even be struggling to accept and move past a terminal diagnosis.
One way to overcome this is to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. You can also join a support group or participate in counseling or therapy sessions.
3. Time management stress
Caregivers often have a lot on their plate, which can make it difficult to find time for themselves. If you’re struggling to juggle everything, it’s important to take a step back and assess your priorities.
Try to delegate tasks whenever possible and make use of respite care services. This will give you some much-needed time to rest and recharge.
4. Physical stress
Caregiving can be physically demanding, especially if you’re caring for someone with a disability or chronic illness. Some patients may require round-the-clock care or have issues carrying out activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating or toileting.
It’s important to take care of yourself so you don’t end up getting sick as well. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly. You can even do a health screening at the comfort of your own home to ensure that your health is in good condition.
5. Relationship stress
Being the primary caregiver can put stress on your relationships, both personal and professional. For example, family members of dementia patients may be shocked to learn that they no longer recognise them or struggle with basic tasks. These things can add up and strain relationships further.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to communicate with your loved ones and set boundaries. It may also be helpful to join a support group or seek counseling. This will give you an outlet to express your feelings and learn how to deal with them effectively.
Get Caregiving Help Today
The best way to care for someone else is to first care for yourself. As much as it is important to tend to the needs of your loved one, you should also find time for yourself, even if it is just for a few minutes each day. You can also sign up for a caregiver training course to arm yourself with the tools and resources to make your job easier.
Jaga-Me provides a wide range of services for both caregivers and patients in Singapore. Whether it is providing professional cancer care at your home or ad-hoc respite care so you can go out to catch a breather, our licensed nurses or trained caregivers will be able to help alleviate your stress and burden.
Contact us to find out how our services in Singapore can help you and your family today.
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