What comes to mind when you think of telehealth? The majority of individuals wouldn’t think even for a second that caregiver support is available. It is readily available and easily accessible. Caregiver stress can be explained as Physical, Emotional and Mental.
Often times, whoever the caregiver may be, become exhausted, angry, bitter or even feel guilt that results from unrelieved care of an individual who is chronically ill or disabled.
Parents, Grandparents, relatives caring for a child with a broad range of diagnoses and symptoms have slowly been educated on the availability of Telehealth. Children with diagnoses such as ADHD, Oppositional defiant or disruptive behaviors, Asthma, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity and many others may have caregivers that need extra support. Parental figures are able to seek education, consultations, behavioral therapies and interventions that may be helpful. All of this done from the home.
Caregivers that live in rural areas do not need to feel isolated….they need to be informed of the availability of counseling, consultations and support from clinicians.
Telehealth can help to deal with caregiver burnout, as support for adults and the children they care for. If support or stress isn’t addressed it can lead to serious effects on an individual’s health.
Physical Stress, which is just what it sounds like. Caregivers are constantly lifting heavy and cumbersome medical equipment, wheelchairs, other adaptive equipment, and the child. Often, they are not using proper lifting techniques to save their backs, knees, and other muscles/joints. This is not intentional on the caregiver’s part, as often there is no clean, appropriate place to change a 12-year-old’s diaper, or to cleanly cath a child. The caregiver has to resort to moving in awkward positions, thus putting additional strain on the body. There is also the physical wearing down of their bodies due to lack of sleep from tending to their child’s many needs, and the constant traveling to and from many medical appointments. These things can take as much of a toll on the body as lifting can.
Emotional Stress can have the same physical symptoms as physical stress. Emotional stress is when the caregiver is constantly worrying over money, lack of time, illness, or other concerns. A caregiver can have constant guilt over trying to balance the needs of the child with special needs with those of any other children or a significant other. Caregivers often feel alone as support groups aren’t always at convenient times, or there is no childcare to even go. They can lose their friends as the friends don’t understand this “new” life, and even family can shy away in fear of doing something wrong, or not understanding what the caregiver needs. This all adds up to an emotional roller coaster than can negatively affect the health of the caregiver.
Mental Stress, which is a little different from emotional stress. Mental stress is the constant worrying over everything you have to do. Did you get the medications correct, forget any appointments, and did you order the correct supplies this month? It also encompasses the worry of juggling school schedules, work schedules, medical appointments, and any other activities. Caregivers often have to make sense of the huge amount of information that streams in and try to figure out what to do next. They are scared and worried about the future, especially what will happen to their children when they are gone.