Sunday, October 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

When caregivers need care

By
From page A10 | November 18, 2012 |

By Oscar Wright, Ph.D.

The extraordinary feats of our mythical superheroes, Superman, Wonder Woman and Captain America, pale in comparison to the strength, stamina and compassion of our real-life, unsung heroes: family caregivers.

While caring for a loved one is expected of close family members, the daily life of a caregiver can be one of sleepless nights, unceasing anxiety and unrelenting strain and stress. While caregiving is to be celebrated, it often comes with a cost.

As of 2004, there were 28.8 million caregivers in the United States, with 3.4 million (12 percent) in California; the largest percentage in the nation. A whopping 16.8 million caregivers care for special needs children under 18 years old. In addition, 78 percent of adults living in the community and in need of long-term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help. Sixty-one percent of caregivers are women.

But what happens when unconditional kind and loving acts of caregiving conflict with the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of the caregiver? This type of condition has been aptly named “Compassion Fatigue.” It results when too much focus is placed on others at the expense of protecting one’s own health.

Studies indicate 40 percent to 70 percent of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression. About one out of every 10 family caregivers report that caregiving has caused their physical health to deteriorate. Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life.

Compassion Fatigue is not a disease but a set of symptoms that may include any one or combination of these:

* Feeling overwhelmed
* Feeling depressed
* Sleeping too much or too little
* Gaining or losing a lot of weight
* Constant fatigue
* Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
* Becoming easily irritated or angered
* Feeling constantly worried
* Frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
* Abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs
* Decreasing interest in work
* Withdrawal from social contacts

What can you do to avoid or minimize issues of compassion fatigue? To begin with, never dismiss your feelings as “just stress.” Caregiver stress can lead to serious health problems and you should take steps to reduce it as much as you can. Consider the following interventions:

* Professional Help: Consult with professionals to explore burnout issues.
* Support Groups: Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies.
* Stay Anchored: Establish “quiet time” for meditation, prayer, yoga, etc.
* Task Share: Rotate caregiving responsibilities with family or friends.
* Technical Assistance: Seek help talking with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
* Stay Healthy: Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet.
* Keep Balance: Stay involved in hobbies, sports and recreational activities.
* Understand Limits: Be aware of your caregiving limitations.
* Respite Care: Taking some time off from caregiving can reduce stress. “Respite care” provides substitute caregiving to give the regular caregiver a much-needed break.
* Science shows a human body generates approximately 100 watts of electricity; equivalent to a single household electric bulb. In the realm of mental health, let’s make sure the hope-giving light of caregivers never dims with compassion fatigue.

— Oscar Wright is the CEO of United Advocates for Children and Families,a statewide nonprofit that provides support to parents, families, children and youth experiencing mental health challenges. Visit UACF at www.uacf4hope.org.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Howzat! Cricket tradition grows in Davis

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Housing First pilot project targets West Sac homeless

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Return to sender: MRAP removal options go to council

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    $18.75M grant aims to build global food security

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Cop witnesses car-pedestrian collision

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Hawaii hit by winds, rain as hurricane veers west

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Evidentiary hearing set for man shot by CHP

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Firefighters on the town

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

     
    Donate used books at Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Love-life tips on ‘Heart to Heart’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to chip in on parks cleanup

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Crash victim ID’d as Woodland man

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

     
    Senior Computer Club hears from county official

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Guns to be discharged at police range

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

     
    DHS ski and snowboard swap set on Nov. 9

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Wolk sets ‘Morning with the Mayor’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Safe viewing of solar eclipse planned

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Fill the Boot for the hungry

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

     
    Quiz Master Gardeners at open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate origami at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Esparto home targeted in three-city pot bust

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

     
    Apply by Friday for Biberstein grants

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk earns perfect score from senior advocates

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    UCD celebrates 50 years of global agricultural success

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Special education information night scheduled

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

    Be on the lookout for tagged Monarch butterflies

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A16 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Old news disturbs the present

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Take time to reach out for help

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

    Are we there yet? Yik Yakking the day away

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

     
    A bionic hand with feeling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Ain’t Snow Mountain high enough

    By Our View | From Page: A14

     
    Let’s take Davis’ energy future seriously

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

    Teach cyclists to obey laws

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

     
    Proposed lights harm kids

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

    Water theater isn’t fun

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

     
    Elect Granda to board

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

    Yes on Prop. 47: reasonable changes to curb recidivism, save money

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

     
    No on Prop. 47: an end to safe neighborhoods, and more victims

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

    Be careful cycling on Fifth

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

     
    .

    Sports

    Competitive Aggies fall at No. 6/7 Montana

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils stick it to Chico, cancer

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Vargas emerges from crowded Aggie WR corps

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    JV Devils fall to Franklin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Niemi leads Sharks to win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    UCD roundup: Big crowd sees Aggies nip Guachos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

     
    Davis is a temple for fine beverages

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Arcadia Biosciences earns spot on global innovation list

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    35 employers will be at West Sac job fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Rob White: Building an economy on innovation

    By Rob White | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Sadie Louise Barga

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Morgan Wheeler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Peggy Belenis Swisher

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, October 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8