According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center caregivers are more likely than other internet users to say they follow their friends’ personal health experiences, to research health information on the Internet, and to have profiles on sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Google. In fact, caregivers are turning to the Internet for support and in some cases technology is being used in the home to assist in the care of a sick or disabled loved one or client. The possibilities for using technology to support caregivers are endless.
However, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Caregivers should be aware that constant communication via technological applications can increase an individual’s stress, which if experienced over a long period of time can negatively impact their psychological wellness and result in techno-stress.
What is techno-stress?
Techno-stress refers to the stress caregivers experience when they are bombarded with to too many emails, text messages, or when they are not sure how to use the home care technology being used to support them in their caregiving routine. Caregivers who are experiencing techno-stress may have trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. In fact, researchers Weil and Rosen predict that techno-stress will result in more illness, disease, addiction, dysfunction and imbalance in people’s lives.
The caregiver wellness: U model
Techno-stress impacts psychological wellness is which is a part of the Caregiver Wellness: Umodel, a conceptual model, that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U Model, being psychologically well, means that you have adequate coping skills to deal with the sometimes competing emotions associated with caring for a sick or disabled loved one or client.
Are you experiencing techno-stress?
Please take this opportunity to evaluate whether you might be experiencing techno-stress. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement and one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
Caregiver techno-stress scale
I dread answering the loads of emails each day.
I feel more comfortable texting my family and friends then calling them by phone.
I start to feel antsy if I cannot check my email, text messages, and Facebook accounts each hour or more often.
I feel frustrated with the technology that is designed to help me with the care of my loved one.
I find that I spend a great deal of time surfing the Internet when I could be resting.
Evaluate your social wellness score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that might want to develop a plan to decrease your techno-stress.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay with managing techno-stress.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you experience a healthy amount of techno-stress.
Six tips to help reduce techno-stress
The following are six tips to decrease your techno-stress as a caregiver:
Make sure the technology you are using is actually helpful. There are a number of technological applications available to assist caregivers with medication reminders, health care monitoring, and communication with doctors. However, just because a resource is available does not mean that it will actually be helpful for your caregiving situation. If you find the new technology is adding to your stress perhaps it is not the right solution.
Get additional training. Some healthcare technology applications may require additional training. Most organizations provide free training for caregivers as to how to use their products and services. If you need additional training do not be afraid to ask.
Take a break from technology. Set time aside quiet time where you are not on the computer or telephone each day. If you are a working caregiver make sure you take time away from your desk during the lunch hour.
Limit the number of times you check your email each day. According to Matt Richtel from the New York Times most people check their email 37 times per hour. A Harris Poll also found that receiving 50 or more emails per day can cause stress. It is a good idea to check your emails, in fact some people actually experience a feeling of euphoria as dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter is released. However, if checking your emails is causing techno-stress try limiting the number of times to check them. You might also try respond to the emails that you can right away when possible so you do not spend time fretting about needing to respond.
Watch the on-demand webinar: Caregiver Wellness: The Power of U! To help family and professional caregivers manage caregiving responsibilities with their own health and well-being, Right at Home hosted a free webinar, “Caregiver Wellness: Power of U!” webinar that featured Dr. Eboni Green, co-founder of Caregiver Support Services based in the greater Omaha area. We invite you to listen to the recorded version of the webinar for self-care tips that you can use right now to decrease your distress.
Join Caregiver Support Services’ Caregiver Wellness Center.You are invited to join our new Caregiver Wellness Support Center. The Caregiver Wellness Support Center is a private group designed specifically for caregivers like you. The purpose of the group is to empower you to achieve optimum wellness as you care for a loved one or client. Benefits of joining the Caregiver Wellness Support Center include: opportunities for information sharing, news updates, events, educational opportunities, and networking with other caregivers. Our forum is private therefore your information will not be shared with any third parties.
I hope that you will take advantage of this complementarymembership by visiting www.mycaregiverwellness.org and clicking on join the group.