Caregiver Mental Health During Covid19

The dominant conceptual model for care-giving assumes that the onset and progression of chronic illness and physical disability are stressful for both the patient and the caregiver. Therefore, the framework of stress-coping models can be used to study care-giving.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering.

Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

~ Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
~ Feeling tired often
~ Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
~ Gaining or losing weight
~ Becoming easily irritated or angry
~ Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
~ Feeling sad
~ Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
~ Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. Once you accept feelings of depression as a part of yourself, you gain autonomy over it. Acceptance places the power in your hands because it indicates you are acknowledging the discomfort and choosing to “sit with it” as opposed to running away.

Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Within this framework, objective stressors include the patient’s physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, and problem behaviors, as well as the type and intensity of care provided. In caregivers, these objective stressors lead to psychological stress and impaired health behaviors, which stimulate physiologic responses resulting in illness and mortality. The effects on the caregiver’s health and moderated by individual differences in resources and vulnerabilities, such as covid19, socioeconomic status, prior health status, and level of social support.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces.

You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth.

Isolation as a Caregiver Out in the Field

We have globally been ordered into social distancing; isolation at it’s worst. Experiencing existential isolation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even though it does add another layer to depression and stress. Especially for caregivers, our front line workers, required to step outside this box and take chances can be very stress inducing. Even with all the protective gear in place, a caregiver will still experience stress. As the world watches the demise of our long-term care facilities, the stress increases globally for all caregivers.

Caregivers all need to be watchful of their own mental health, accepting outside help if required. Therapy online for these brave front line workers is key to a successful journey through these times or coronavirus.

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