Stress, guilt can overwhelm caregivers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge resident Dana Barton is the primary care giver for her 93 year old father, Harry.  She took on that role when her mother passed away a few years ago.

"He's just precious. He is amazing," said Barton of her father who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. "He was the rock of our family. He was someone that we could always turn to."

Dana and her siblings work together with a non medical senior care group called Home Instead to make sure her father is cared for every day.

Home Instead provides services ranging from sitting, to housekeeping, to full personal care.

"It's a blessing to me, it really is. And having home instead is a triple blessing," said Barton.

While she enjoys the time she gets to spend with her father, Barton admits there can be challenges as well.

Barton says her biggest challenge was understanding her father's disease, and overcoming worry about his care.

Many caregivers often feel overwhelming guilt and stress when caring for a loved one.

"You're pulled between the care of your own family, your husband, your children, your grandchildren, your job, your social obligations and next thing you know, you're overwhelmed," explained Home Instead General Manager Sandy Hull.

Caregiver distress can cause emotional and physical harm through anxiety, depression and even high blood pressure.  Research shows women are more likely to succumb to caregiver distress.

"That leaves us giving so much to everyone else that we're not taking care of ourselves. Then you're no good to anyone," said Hull.

The experts at home instead say it's important for caregivers to take time for themselves and to deal with their stress through exercise, meditation, prayer or talking with a friend.

"The key is to identify when you are stressed, what you're body is telling you and then to respond to it," said Hull. "Seek out help. You don't have to do this alone."

If you are suffering from caregiver distress, you can find helpful resources here.

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