Dealing with Stress as a Caregiver
Posted on April 21, 2023
When a loved one is facing a serious illness, it can be a very stressful time for the patient, family and friends. At Islands Hospice, our team works to ease the stress that comes with end-of-life care and strives to be a source of comfort for patients and family members going through this journey.
For April’s Stress Awareness Month, Islands Hospice social worker Kalawaiʻa G. discusses how he helps families and caregivers navigate the stress when facing changing situations or hospice care. While his tips are geared towards families of hospice patients, his professional insight may be applicable to anyone dealing with a stressful situation or time in their life.
In your role as a hospice social worker, how do you help families deal with stress?
Every situation is different, but when I work with families, I first help to identify the sources of their stress. Putting a name to feelings and identifying concerns or the potential triggers for stress helps our team to address any worries up front and create a more complete plan of care for not only the patient, but for loved ones as well.
I also try to highlight the importance of having a community or support system, and remind families that the types of feelings they are experiencing are normal during these times. Helping someone identify their sense of purpose can also help ease stress and encourage hope during difficult situations.
What are the signs and symptoms of chronic stress?
Notable signs may include a change in sleeping patterns and/or dream patterns, inability to focus or concentrate, intrusive thoughts, feeling a rise in anxiousness with no apparent cause, or hypersensitivity. Other signs could include a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, feeling disengaged, changes in eating patterns (overeating or undereating), and having low energy, regardless of how much sleep you’re getting.
What are your top tips for coping with stress?
Keep up with social interactions and have a support system available. Resist shutting away, but keep exchanges with others at a level that is comfortable for you. It is also important to normalize loss or grief and expect that things will get better.
Planning a trip, new project or a gathering, or developing an enjoyable routine can help you stay busy and avoid situations where overthinking typically happens. Rest, diet and exercise are also key to battling stress.
Why is it important to manage stress?
When not tended to, stress reduces the quality and quantity of life. It is toxic in many ways and can impact relationships, personal environment, and take a physical toll on your body. Long-term stress can do permanent damage to organs so it’s vital to manage stress for your overall health.
Note: This blog is intended to provide general information about stress awareness and related topics. The information provided in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.