Sources of Elder Care Stress and How to Help


Caregiver burnout is a real thing. Not only is it difficult for caregivers to deal with the stress and worry of caring for an elderly patient, but seniors can have trouble handling their own affairs and maintaining independence. When dealing with senior care stress, it is important to assess the situation to narrow down the point of stress and use strategies like forming a support network.

Type of Elder Care Stress

Elder care stress can occur in one of two ways. Seniors attempting to manage their lives with diminishing levels of independence experience stress. Alternately, caregivers in charge of seniors who can no longer manage every aspect of their lives experience exhaustion and stress. In both cases the challenges they face are similar.

Assess the Causes of Stress

In order to understand stress, it is important accurately assess the problems that are occurring in the life of the senior or the caregiver. Although some issues are unique, there are standard issues that most seniors face that bring on stress.


Daily activities that are considered commonplace become difficult for seniors. Accessing a checking account, creating a will and other legal activities create anguish. Many of these situations are intensified by family feuds over the senior's priorities.


Insurance is a maze for many people. Seniors have to navigate copays and deductibles with little to no help. Understanding issues like Medicare Part D, and its role in the entire medical benefit program mean hours pouring over medical bills and health regulation. Caregivers managing senior insurance issues often have no place to turn when the financial load becomes overwhelming.

Care Needed

Deciding the care that is needed is often a battle between the senior and the caregiver. Nursing home care takes away the senior's independence and often leaves him or her isolated and angry. The regulations for home-bound status make home care tricky for seniors who still have some level of independence. Assisted living facilities are rarely covered by government insurance and leave the burden of cost on the senior or the caregiver.

Understand Limitations

In order to deal with stress, it is important for the senior or the caregiver to understand individual limitations. Once the senior realizes what he or she can and can't do, there is less of a struggle on the type of care or the legal necessity of the situation. This realization may not occur without the help of a professional counselor who understands the frustration that seniors face. Seniors and caregivers should work together to determine when the time is right for a professional to intervene.

Caregivers must understand how to weigh sacrifice with potential resentment. Life changes occur in the lives of caregivers when they take on the care of a senior. Elder care stress manifests in the form of resentment toward a love one when those changes affect the caregiver's life in a very negative way.

Before making major decisions related to the care of a senior, caregivers should present a hypothetical scenario to themselves and weigh the long-term effects of the decision. If it feels bad for the long run, consider other alternatives for senior care, such as hiring a home health care professional.

Form a Network

A network consists of anyone who provides support in the care of the seniors. This can include siblings, caregivers from home care agencies or hospice, and community service agencies available in many cities. It is important to develop this network and keep assessing its feasibility. Make sure the network offers the best care possible to the senior.

Join a Support Group

Sometimes the issue is just isolation. Often it feels like no one else understands the challenges associated with caring for a senior. Face-to-face groups are available for many, but for caregivers providing around the clock care, this is not an option. Online community message boards offer inspiration and advice to caregivers seeking relief or encouragement to go on. The National Family Caregivers Association is an organization that provides opportunities for support, message boards, and information on additional resources.

Be aware that the Internet offers anonymity and opens the door for fraud and abuse. Tread lightly until there is a level of comfort with fellow posters.

Seniors and caregivers dealing with elder care stress should understand that stress occurs during our lives and learn to manage it by dealing with issues directly and working with support groups and networks to resolve issues.

by Maurice Moss

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Sources of Elder Care Stress and How to Help