Health Notes: May 2017
by Ellen S. Mullen M.D.
May is the month to celebrate mothers. Many mothers are caregivers, in one form or another. Caregivers take on the special role of managing the basic care of another. They care for persons who may be unable to care for themselves for a number of reasons. Some are children, others are disabled or suffering from chronic conditions. A caregiver is one who is responsible for providing a safe, clean environment in which the person being cared for can live and thrive, as well as providing for all needs of the other person. This may include bathing, shopping, dressing, feeding, giving medications, cooking and emotionally supporting the other person. All of these tasks can be taxing and may cause excess stress on the caregiver. It is important that the one who is doing the caring also care for themselves.
Excess stress is one of the number one reasons for depression and anxiety. These conditions oftentimes present with symptoms such as decreased energy, crying easily, insomnia or over or under eating. Persons may lose interest in hobbies and become antisocial. Irritability and frustration may also be present. It is not uncommon for caregivers to develop depression or anxiety. These feelings are not wrong and need to be dealt with in order to continue to be the best at your job. Caregivers need others to care for them, even if they are not depressed or suffering from anxiety. This may include counselors, support groups, websites or other community services that are available to offer help or information. Some resources include: Eldercare Locator which can help with adult day care and home aids in your area, 1-800-677-1116. The Alzheimer’s Association can help those caring for others with dementia, 1-800-272-3900 or online at www.alz.org. There are also local parenting organizations and play groups that can offer tremendous support to those mothering young children. If you are caring for a school aged child get involved in your child’s school by volunteering for the parent’s club. There are many ways to enhance your knowledge and receive support for the important job you are doing. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for help. All caregivers need assistance and support.