Experts say caregiver stress burnout is common - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Experts say caregiver stress burnout is common

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A recent murder-suicide in McMinn County is possibly shedding some light on the stress caregivers take on for loved ones across the country.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said there was evidence of a strained relationship between a caretaker and elderly loved one. Experts say the stress is more common than many may think.

"There's a tendency to say 'I can handle all tings, and be all things to all people'," said Farlie Chastain, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Parkridge Valley Hospital.

Chastain said it's a mentality many caregivers share, but it's not a realistic one.

"Just the sheer volume of what's required to take care of that person can be overwhelming," he said.

Chastain works with seniors and their caregivers. He said with smaller families these days, caregiving responsibilities are bigger. He said he often sees elderly family members taking on the care of their elderly loved one.

"We see more and more of 80-year-old mother being taken care of by 60-year-old daughter."

That was the case in the apparent murder-suicide in McMinn County on Tuesday night. A 65-year-old man was caring for his 85-year-old aunt that was a stroke victim.

"He had assumed care for his elderly aunt when no one else would," Sheriff Guy said.

"She just sort of demanded a certain level of care due to her health problems that perhaps, and we're speculating a little bit here, that the pressure of that just wore on him for some reason, and that caused him to do what he did."

Chastain said the person being cared for may often become irritable and angry. "So they say and do things that are very hurtful, and the person providing the care then gets caught."

He said it's necessary for caregivers to find ways to destress, and that it's OK to reach out to friends, family or a professional for help.

"It's necessary to maintain your health and the care of your loved one."

Parkridge Valley Hospital has a 24-hour RESPOND help line for caregivers. That number is (423) 499-2300.

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