Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fight or Flight: The Result is The Same

If there is one thing in common for all caregivers it's STRESS! It doesn't seem to matter if you are caring for a parent or spouse or friend; if you are doing it long-distance or you are living in the same house - all caregivers suffer from stress. Call it "worry" , "anxiety", "fear" or any other word, the result is the same.
By result I mean the toll it is taking on your body and on your health. It is proven that long-term stress triggers the HPA response in your body. The HPA response refers to the Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The end result of which is a triggering of the same hormones and neurotransmitters that are released in the "fight or flight" response.
"Fight or Flight" is the bodies emergency response system designed to survive an immediate threat to life and limb. Which is great, except when it does not turn off. The same response system when left on too long starts to eat away at our immune system, thus increasing the chance of catching colds, flu, and other illness. But that is only the beginning. it also starts tearing away at the body so that what helps us in the short term, starts damaging us in the long run, increasing our chances for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and much more.
Almost every caregiver I ever met, was a caregiver for the first time, on a steep learning curve, and was thrust into the roll unexpectedly. Naturally, it is very stressful: financially, emotionally, and physically. It strains family relationships and disrupts plans and goals.
However, caregivers must remember to take care of themselves. If you are a caregiver you are probably struggling on your own, with little or no help. But if something should happen to you what will happen to your loved one? Do you see why controlling stress is so important. Half of all caregivers pass away before the person they caring for. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but you need to start taking better care of yourself.
How? By taking advantage of all the programs and services that are available for caregivers. Many of them for little or no money. You may be an expert in your field. But I am an expert in this field. If you need to do taxes you go to an accountant, if you go to court you need a lawyer, if you are building a home you go to a contractor. Why would you try to delve into the world of caregiving without guidance?
Do you know how much money you are losing going it alone? First, there are services, products and ideas that you missed because you did not know about them, then there are the cheaper (and sometimes better) alternatives to the things you DO know about, and finally there is the value of all the lost time you spent researching the tasks and services that you did find.
Consider signing up . You may very well be glad you did, and if you learn nothing new or helpful, it cost you nothing to look. In addition, as a Gerontologist, I have website with free membership: SIGN UP Just put your name and email address and get a free stress management recording that can de-stress your day to day frustrations. Later you will get a free ebook on how to handle "sundowning" or wandering, a very dangerous symptom that happens to about 70% of Alzheimer's sufferers.

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