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Rosalynn Carter has been widely quoted as saying, "There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver."

A caregiver is anyone who provides care for another person in need, such as a child, an aging parent, a husband or wife, a relative, friend, or neighbor.

Caregiving can be rewarding; however, caregiving can also lead to high degrees of stress due to the emotional and physical demands of caregiving. Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who are not caregivers.

The signs of caregiver stress can take many forms. You may feel frustrated and angry one minute and helpless the next. You may make mistakes. You may experience loneliness, isolation, or feeling deserted by others; lose interest in activities you used to enjoy; become easily irritated or angered; feel worried or sad; or feel overwhelmed. You may also experience physical symptoms of stress such as gaining or losing a lot of weight, or experiencing headaches or body aches. As a result, you may turn to unhealthy behaviors like smoking or drinking too much alcohol.

If you are experiencing caregiver stress, there are steps you can take to feel better. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Let others give you a break. Reach out to family and/or friends for assistance. Take advantage of local resources such as the Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging/NY Connects, who offer a range of caregiving support services to include home delivered meals, home health care services, housekeeping, cooking, or companionship; support groups, counseling, respite care, and technology services.

The Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging/NY Connects here to help, and in honor of National Family Caregivers Month, they will be creating handy caregiver organizers to make planning and caretaking easier for the caregiver. The caregiver organizers will be offered free of charge and will be available in the near future. To request a free caregiver organizer or to request an unbiased assessment that can assist you with learning what caregiver services and resources are available, please call 716-373-8032 or 1-800-462-2901.

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