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caregiver physical effects

Who Can Afford Respite Care?

Before I get started on this blog, I want to write a disclaimer:  I’m very tired and having difficulty this week coping so if you are a caregiver; read on—you probably have felt the same way.  If you are someone with MS, maybe you better skip this one.  It’s not meant to cause you guilt or pain but unfortunately, it’s how I’m feeling right now.

So what’s wrong with me today?  I’m tired.  My body aches.  And though it’s 8:30 at night when most people are starting to wind down, I still have many hours to go.  Nothing out of the ordinary going on today; it’s just a regular day, but that’s why I’m feeling down…Not depressed; just down.
Do you ever just feel like you want to run away?  I do.  I want so much to have a couple of days in a row where I only take care of myself.  I really feel like I need to get away but I also know that is not going to happen.  You may be thinking, if you’re a parent of a young child that you are also in the same situation, but unless you have a special needs child that is not likely to leave home, I’m going to challenge you on that view.  When your child is totally dependent on you, they are still small enough that you can lift them fairly easily.  Chances are they weigh less than 50 pounds. The person I’m caring for weighs 195 pounds, is six feet tall, and can’t move a muscle independently. While your child is taking up every spare minute of your day, you know they are going to gain independence, and as they grow and learn, they will become even more independent until eventually they will either leave home or if they stay at home, you can ignore them. You have the “empty nest” to look forward to.
I don’t.
Not trying to be morbid here but my responsibilities are only going to get more demanding; not less. As I grow older and have less strength and more discomfort, his needs will only be getting greater.  Our situation will not get better until one of us dies … and the fact is, I’m just as likely to be the one to go as he is since the life expectancy for a full time caregiver is less than the average population’s of the same age.  I sometimes feel that the only way I’m ever going to get any rest or really be able to rejuvenate is to become hospitalized myself.
I know I should not be complaining like this; I have people come over almost every day to help Lynn with his writing.  Most of them also feed him his breakfast, get him what he wants to drink and help him with small comforts.  However, in order to be able to use their services, I have to get up three hours before they arrive to get him ready for them.  Then once they leave, I have hours of work to do related to his care as well.  Each morning my alarm goes off and Lynn is telling me to get up; he needs to empty is bladder as soon as possible. So I can’t linger in bed and stretch or gradually to wake up anymore.  Then we spend a half hour to an hour in the bathroom where my tired, tight-feeling body lifts him onto and off of the toilet.  Finally, I lay him down to get him off his butt since he sits up to sleep. I want so much to not have to get up each morning; to not spend three hours lifting body parts that are heavy and dead weight; to not feel so exhausted I can hardly move.
But I can’t.
Continue reading at: http://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/can-afford-respite-care/

The Impact of Caregiving on the Caregiver

s I was taking my morning dose of Advil (4 tablets rather than 2), I was curious about my future as a caregiver and what being a caregiver was doing to me personally.  So I thought I would look up to see if any research had been done on that topic. The Family Caregiver Alliance had a nice comprehensive summary of what research says on their website.  I caution you though, that if you are the receiver of care, this might make you feel guilty and if you are the caregiver, it might make you feel depressed. That is not my intent.  I think these facts are important to realize; however, so that appropriate decisions can be made for everyone’s future.

 Mental and Emotional Health Impact of Caregiving

  • Caregivers have higher levels of depression (40-70% have signs of clinical depression).
  • They often have coexisting anxiety disorders, substance abuse or dependence, or chronic health disease along with depression.
  • Caregivers have higher stress levels experiencing symptoms of frustration, anger, feeling drained, guilty or helpless.
  • They report feeling a loss of self identity, lower levels of self esteem, constant worry; feelings of uncertainty, less self-acceptance and feel less effective and in control of their own lives.
  • More than one-fifth (22%) are exhausted when they go to bed at night and feel they cannot handle all their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Caregivers who experience chronic stress may be at greater risk for cognitive decline including short-term memory, attention and verbal IQ.

Studies indicate that stressful caregiving situations may result in the caregiver participating more often in the use of alcohol or other substance abuse and caregivers often use prescription and psychotropic drugs more often than non-caregivers.  In addition, family caregivers are at greater risk for showing higher levels of hostility.  Over time as clinical depression increases and the person they are caring for shows greater impairment in mental and physical dependency, the caregiver is more likely to engage in harmful behavior toward their loved one if they themselves have become depress. Depressed caregivers also show a greater incident of suicide.

 Caregiving Impact on Physical Health

  • Eleven percent (11%) of caregivers say their own health has declined since taking on caregiving responsibilities.
  • Caregivers have a lower level of subjective well-being and physical health. In 2005, three-fifths (45%) of caregivers reported fair or poor health status, one or more chronic conditions, or a disability, compared to one-third (24%) of non-caregivers.
  • Caregivers suffer from increased rates of physical ailments (including acid reflux, headaches, and pain/aching), increased tendency to develop a serious illness, and have high levels of obesity and bodily pain.
  • Studies show that caregivers have a diminished immune response leading to frequent infection and increased risk of cancer (caregivers have a 23% higher level of stress hormones and 15% lower level of antibody response).  They also suffer from slower wound healing.
  • Ten percent report they are physically strained.
  • Caregivers exhibit exaggerated cardiovascular responses to stressful conditions which put them at greater risk for the development of cardiovascular syndromes such as high blood pressure and heart disease. They also are at greater risk for diabetes and higher levels of cholesterol.
  • Women who spend 9 or more hours per week caring for a disabled spouse increase their risk of health disease two-fold.

to continue reading this blog, go to http://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/impact-of-caregiving/