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What are Parental Anxiety and Caregiver Stress?
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What are Parental Anxiety and Caregiver Stress?

What Are Parental Anxiety and Caregiver Stress?

Taking care of an aging parent can cause an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. The reality is that caregiving has all the markers of a highly stressful experience — extended periods of physical and psychological strain, unpredictability, and lack of control over one’s life.

As a result, family caregivers can end up feeling overwhelmed. But they might also suffer from parental and caregiver anxiety.

The problem is that if you don’t recognize how much your role as a caregiver might be impacting your stress levels, you could put your mental health at risk, as well as negatively affecting your overall health.

At Town Square Jersey Shore, our background in the field of senior care is extensive – and we’re ready to help caregivers manage stress effectively. Learn more about how we take care of our members in our FAQ page.

What Is Caregiver Stress?

Caregiver stress (or anxiety) is when you feel anxious or worried, and the feelings are related to your role as a caregiver.

Here are some of the ways it can manifest:

  • You might obsess over small details. For example, small things, such as your parent taking their medication slightly later than usual or their lack of interest in the dinner you prepared, might trigger a lot of stress.
  • You might feel guilty when you have to leave your parent alone to go to work or run errands.
  • There might be a sense that something terrible will happen, such as your parent falling and getting hurt while you’re not there to care for them.
  • When your parent wants to visit a friend, go for a walk, or take public transportation, you might feel overprotective and not want them to do anything independently.

The bottom line is this: when you are stressed day in and day out, the pressure and worry start to evolve into anxiety, which can make coping even more challenging.

What is Parental Anxiety?

When a caretaker worries excessively that things will go wrong with their family, they have parental anxiety. Both parents and adults caring for their own parents can experience parental anxiety, but as a caretaker of aging parents, the anxiety can be particularly challenging as you might be juggling multiple responsibilities — working a job, taking care of kids, caring for a family member, and managing your household.

How Does Parental Anxiety Affect Caregivers?

If you have parental anxiety, you might be irritable all the time, nervous, and on edge. Feeling this way can rob you of your ability to enjoy life, thrive at work, and experience healthy relationships with family and friends.

Suffering parental anxiety can also impact a caregiver’s health and cognitive function.

Anxiety disorders are known to lead to memory problems and difficulty concentrating, which can impact one’s ability to perform their job.

Life stress can trigger the onset of depression. Once someone starts to feel depressed, it becomes difficult to find the energy to handle responsibilities, which can lead to more stress and worry. The fatigue that comes with depression can also impair emotional function and affect personal relationships.

Suffering from a chronic form of anxiety like parental anxiety can increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease episodes, such as heart attacks and strokes. Trying to trudge through as a caregiver even though you’re suffering from anxiety can also lead to other health issues, such as stomach problems and weakened immune health.

There’s no question that ignoring parental anxiety and caregiver stress can lead to serious problems. That’s why it’s so important to create a plan to reduce parental anxiety and reset your day-to-day so you can enjoy your life again — and have peace of mind that your family is alright.

Ultimately, feeling these stresses and the resultant negative effects on your whole life is a normal experience. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, nor does it make you a bad or ungrateful family member. Caregiving objectively does place stresses on the caregiver’s mind and body, and some level of guilt, sadness, anger, or other negative emotions are natural consequences.

When these states become disruptive to daily life, however, is when parental anxiety becomes a major issue. There’s no point at which you need to simply suck it up or take on every responsibility on your own. It’s never shameful to seek help so that you can better care for a loved one — it’s selfless to do so, not selfish.

How to Stop Parental Anxiety

If caregiving is more stressful than you can handle, there are resources available to help.

The key to stopping parental anxiety is to ask for help. You could ask other family members to pitch in more. A neighbor or family friend might be able to offer some relief as well.

While these solutions are a start, they might not be enough to let you truly start living without worry. That’s where professional help can make a world of difference.

It’s important to seek mental health counseling if you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with your overall mental state. Many employer-based insurance plans currently offer mental health services at a convenient, low- or no-cost basis. Moreover, Town Square Jersey Shore is proud to host a variety of support groups through the Town Square Family Center, aimed at bringing caregivers together to collaboratively share solutions and work through stresses as a community.

At Town Square Jersey Shore, we provide an engaging environment where your loved one can spend time while you take care of your other responsibilities — whether you need to work, bond with other family members, run errands, or simply relax. We’re ready to welcome members for any number of visits — there is no obligatory minimum or maximum number of days seniors need to spend with us — and our community can be a major benefit to people at all stages of dementia or other cognitive disorder.

In fact, people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia who receive active support like Town Square can offer, starting from the earliest stage, can find a renewed sense of purpose, enjoy the benefits of a community throughout their progression, and find the peace of mind that comes with certainty and structure for both themselves and their family members.

The Benefits of Town Square’s Care

Town Square’s services are designed to enrich the lives of seniors.  Whether our members are with us every single weekday or only occasionally for respite care, we strive to provide the same socially engaging, warm, joyful, and fulfilling experience. To help every area senior, whether or not they’re affected by cognitive issues, we’ve created a fun environment that transports them to 1950s America. We provide reminiscence therapy and dementia care in our warm, welcoming center.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to reach out for help. Greater fulfillment for your loved one and peace of mind for you are right around the corner. Contact Town Square today to learn more.