Signing enlistment papers can means entering a life of uncertainty. And while family members and loved ones don’t initial any official documents, they, too, can have unexpected roles to fill. One of those primary roles can be caregiver to a wounded veteran. It’s not an easy task and if the caregiver isn’t careful, they may put their own health at risk.
Caregiver Stress, also known as secondhand Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a danger and symptoms may include feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and irritable. It can also lead to weight gain or loss, poor sleeping habits and loss of interest in activity.
The stress is often connected to feeling trapped and alone in such a difficult position. Luckily, there are ways to help alleviate some caregiver stress and prevent secondhand Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from occurring:
Prepare for and Accept Help
Just because you’re a caregiver does not mean you have to do all the household chores, the cooking, the errands and everything else. Think of tasks others can do for you when help is offered, such as picking up the groceries or taking your veteran outside for a bit.
Get Support that Understands
There are multiple hotlines to call that are specifically catered to caregivers. Also, there are organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project that are designed to support wounded veterans in transitioning back to a civilian life. There are mentorships, counseling and caregiver retreats offered through the program. Another idea is to check your local military base for caregiver support groups.
Commit to Your Physical Health
Take a preemptive approach by scheduling nutritious menus, daily activity, adequate sleep and regular doctor appointments. Be honest about concerns and symptoms of stress and get all your immunization shots.
Commit to Your Mental Health
Mental health is another factor to consider. Having a counselor or therapist to talk and release emotion to is a great idea. Many caregivers experience guilt and resentment but are afraid to admit it. Having a neutral source can help a caregiver verbalize their feelings and fears and later address them in a rational manner.
Stay Socially Connected
It may seem as though being a caretaker is a full-time job, but social time is a must for wellbeing. Stay connected with family and friends through the telephone and try to schedule weekly walks or meals to get you out of the house.
Photo thanks to Official U.S. Navy Imagery via Flickr Creative Commons