Caregiver Anxiety

3 Tips to Beat "Restless Caregiver Syndrome"
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After you've been taking care of someone for a while, it's not unusual to feel . . . antsy. You may find yourself having fantasies of escape -- worrying that your life has taken a left turn you never expected and can't see the end of. Some call it "restless caregiver syndrome." What helps?

Play a game with yourself. Imagine you've been given three years to reinvent yourself. What would you do? Learn a new language? Become a teacher? Brush up your computer skills and start a website or create a mobile app? Sell your favorite craft online? Or, imagine you're under house arrest, so you can't leave -- but you're not caregiving. What would you do with yourself? These kind of daydreams can help you identify other possibilities for your life, concurrent with caregiving, that help you feel more satisfied -- and less like running away.

Vent safely, within reason. One good idea: Call a friend and ask if you can vent for ten minutes. Set a timer, and when time's up, switch to noncomplaint mode. Tell the friend to warn you or hang up if you continue ruminating and venting, because after a point it's not healthy.

Create a time-off plan. In your "stuck" hours, work on how you'll get a break and what you'll do. Look into part-time nursing care or elder companions, respite programs, or ways you can rope siblings into helping more. You'll never get away if you don't plan a getaway.

Image by Flickr user Bruno Girin under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licensing agreement.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio