Caregivers who work with older adults or in personal care facilities should always take their own health and safety into consideration. Loving family caregivers take such wonderful care of those who need it but are at risk themselves for accidents, depression, and illness. [bctt tweet=”Research shows that emotional, mental, and physical risks are often associated with caregiving.” via=”no”] These issues and health risks can hinder the caregiver’s ability to provide services and affects the quality of life of both the caregiver, as well as those receiving care.
Evidence shows that many caregivers are not properly prepared for their caregiving role and more than one-third of caregivers provide care which suffering poor health and safety issues, themselves. Caregiver risks include:
- Higher rates of depression
- Higher levels of stress
- Harmful situations
- Poor physical health and illness
- Increased heart disease
- Safety issues
Caregivers play an integral role in the wellbeing others and it is important for them to stay safe and healthy in order to offer quality, long-term care. Below are some essential tips for making sure caregivers stay safe and well.
Depression: Studies consistently report higher levels of depression and mental health issues among caregivers. In fact, 40-70% of caregivers experience symptoms of clinical depression.
Stress: Caregivers suffer higher levels of stress. 26% of caregivers say their caregiving position is difficult on them emotionally. Caregiving is associated with lower levels of self-esteem, constant worry, sadness, and uncertainty.
Caregivers who experience chronic stress and depression are at a higher risk of cognitive decline, and even suicide. To help combat these mental health issues:
- Allow friends and family members to help you if they offer.
- Manage your stress levels. Learn yoga or meditation.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, even if it is just a walk around the block.
- Find something to do–like a hobby–to unwind and have some me time after services are complete.
Caregiving can put an intense physical strain on caregivers. Caregivers have an increased rate of physical ailments such as acid reflux, headaches, joint pain, and diminished immune response. A lowered immune response can not only lead to frequent illness but also increases cardiovascular disease, as well. Studies indicate that women caregivers who spend over nine hours a week caregiving for an ill or disabled person is twice as likely to have heart disease.
Caregivers can prevent physical ailments by practicing safe lifting habits, limit work hours to prevent fatigue, ask for assistance when needed, and make sure to eat well and exercise a little each day.
There are many ways to prevent illness and accidents in a caregiving situation. To prevent risks of illness in a home care setting, it is important to know what potential hazards are at your workplace. Bacteria testing for caregivers is one way to prevent dangerous disease-causing bacteria from spreading infection to your vulnerable patients and to protect yourself from infection. Caregivers need to make sure their hands stay washed and clean, and they should always wear personal protective gear, such as masks or gowns to prevent contact with illness-causing germs.
Ensuring Caregiver Safety
A large and growing body of evidence reveals that providing care for a chronically sick person can have harmful physical, mental, and emotional consequences for the caregiver. Keeping caregivers healthy and safe allows these special people to continue helping our aging, ill, or disabled population.
Caregivers need to visit their doctor regularly for checkups and always listen to what your body is telling you. Take notice of changes such as exhaustion, changes in appetite, or stress. These symptoms should be taken seriously and if ignored, can cause a decline in physical and mental health.
To learn more about keeping caregivers safe and healthy, Contact Us.