The Effects of Stress on Spousal Caregivers

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Understanding the Harmful Effects of Stress on Spousal Caregivers in Toronto, CAN

It’s estimated that there are more than a million spousal caregivers in Canada facing the added stress of caring for a loved one with dementia. Even when dementia isn’t involved, tending to the needs of a spouse with other conditions requiring special care can have a similar impact on the health of the spouse acting as the caregiver.

Taking Spousal Reactions Personally

Confusion, sudden angry outbursts, and the inability to recall important memories are condition-specific reactions often taken personally by spousal caregivers. While it may be difficult to do so, it’s important for dementia caregivers in Toronto and throughout Canada to realize that it’s the illness or disease causing these reactions, not the person.

Increased Vulnerability to Stress-Related Conditions

As care needs become increasingly more demanding, spousal caregivers often experience increased anxiety that sometimes leads to depression and other stress-related conditions. Added stress may also cause resentment towards family members who are unable to provide significant assistance. Stress-related symptoms may include:

• Trouble sleeping
• Increased aches and pains
• Frequent headaches

Neglecting Personal Care Needs

Spousal caregivers often place the needs of their loved one over their own needs. If personal care needs are neglected, however, the spouse providing the care may put themselves at an increased risk of developing serious illnesses, sustaining injuries, or not being as responsive to immediate care needs due to increased fatigue. Spousal caregivers may also reach a point where they:

• Overlook signs of possible health issues
• Skip doctors’ appointments for themselves
• Dismiss expressions of concern from family members

A study on caregivers in Canada found that half of the respondents reported multiple symptoms of psychological distress coupled with feelings of being increasingly isolated. Such findings emphasize the need for spousal caregivers to realize that it’s alright to ask for help from other family members or Toronto respite care providers, consider long-term professional care options, and accept their limitations.

Caring for a senior loved one becomes increasingly more manageable with the right support system in place. For help meeting your loved one’s care needs, turn to Toronto Home Care Assistance—the leading provider of elder care Toronto families trust. Call a friendly Care Manager today at (416) 488-8777 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.

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