Family caregivers come up with numerous coping strategies to help them deal with the stress of an elderly loved one. Many of them are healthy, such as exercise, music and hiring a home are aide to provide breaks. However, too many family caregivers adopt unhealthy ways to cope with the chronic stress they experience in caring for an aging relative.
Because April is Emotional Overeating Month, it’s an excellent time for family caregivers to learn more about the condition and how to avoid it.
What is Emotional Overeating?
While many people indulge in overeating, one specific type—emotional overeating—is getting some attention as researchers study the physical and mental health of family caregivers. Emotional overeating is a psychological condition that is triggered by chronic stress. When caregivers devote all their time and attention on their elderly relative, they don’t spend any time on themselves. This can result in turning to food for comfort and stress relief.
Everyone responds to stress in various ways, and overeating is one way that a person might choose to cope. Emotional overeating is a form of binge eating, which can harm the body. From digestive issues to weight gain, too many calories and unhealthy food leads to lots of physical problems. If caregivers suffer from poor health, they are less effective caregivers, which causes more stress and continues the downward spiral.
The emotional consequences of chronic stress can lead to depression and anxiety, stemming from the overeating. Family caregivers that find themselves relying on overeating to deal with stress must identify and establish other healthier ways to cope.
How Caregivers Can Avoid Emotional Overeating
There are several things that family caregivers can do to avoid falling into the trap of emotional overeating. It’s extremely important for family caregivers to get regular breaks from the burden of elderly caregiving. Many turn to other family members to provide some respite. The family caregiver needs to be able to share the responsibilities for their aging relative’s physical, emotional and financial care.
Another alternative is to hire a home care aide. These professional helpers can come at regularly scheduled times to help with bathing, dressing, grooming, housekeeping, meal prep and companionship. This lets family caregivers make plans to do errands, have lunch with friends, read a book or simply be away from their duties for a little while.
With emotional overeating, it’s important to identify food temptations and remove them so they are harder to get. Also family caregivers should choose new habits that are more healthy in dealing with stress. Examples are exercising, journaling, healthy snacks, reading books and listening to music.
The best way to be the nurturing and compassionate family caregiver that their elderly relative needs is to properly manage their chronic stress. With the help of a home care provider, family caregivers must grant themselves permission to put themselves and their needs first. Otherwise, unhealthy habits like emotional overeating threaten their ability to cope.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING IN-HOME CAREGIVERS IN LAS VEGAS, NV, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY 702-800-4616.