Easing the Stress of Chronic Caregiving
Findings from a recent report published by Family Process are not surprising: nearly 50 percent of mothers of children with autism reported symptoms of depression compared to mothers with neurotypical children over the same time period. The researchers also noted that while feelings of depression are common among moms parenting children with ASD, their feelings of depression were not likely to negatively impact their children’s behavior.
The daily challenges of parenting a child with special needs can take a toll on anyone’s mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s normal at times to feel isolated, angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. But when there’s no relief from pressures and responsibilities, parents may suffer from depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and even develop physical illnesses. Staying healthy and resilient benefits the parent and the child, and it’s important to find ways to relieve stress. Here are some tips:
- If you or your spouse/partner works, find out if an employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs offer a listening ear and can assist in finding resources in your community.
- Join a support group, whether it’s virtual or in-person.
- Take advantage of meal and grocery delivery and other non-medical home care services when possible.
- Carve out time each week to shut down from caregiving and focus on yourself.
- Stay in contact with friends and reach out to others who are supportive. Accept offers of help.
- Stay on top of your own health needs. Don’t neglect your own mental or physical health and see a healthcare provider if you’re feeling sick, anxious, depressed, have trouble sleeping or eating, or are due for a physical, immunizations, or other screenings.
- Set boundaries with your time and energy. Learn to ‘just say no’ to requests that only put extra pressure on you.
Eating healthy foods and getting adequate sleep and exercise can also help you manage caregiver stress. Be kind to yourself and recognize that you’re doing the best that you can.
Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 233-8833.