It’s becoming very common for people who are not healthcare professionals to provide care services for a loved one at home. The University of Utah Health said that in 2018, there were 65.7 million Americans providing home care for aging family members.
Providing care for your loved one who has a health condition can be extremely rewarding. But the demands of being a caregiver can cause fatigue, and over time can become overwhelming. So, it’s important to be aware of caregiver burnout prevention.
Perhaps you’re trying to take on more than you’re capable of. Maybe you don’t have enough time to maintain your career while giving adequate care. You may feel financial stress, confusion about medical appointments or medication dosing. It’s likely that all the time you’re putting into caregiving is taking away from time to yourself and the things you enjoy.
The AARP says that 36 percent of caregivers describe their situation as “highly stressful”, and 40 percent exhibit signs of depression. These signs include anxiety, irritability, social withdrawal, sleeping problems and low energy. This can lead the caregiver to feel like they’re giving inadequate care, which can cause feelings of guilt, sadness, or frustration, even toward the person they’re caring for.
Are you a caregiver for a loved one at home? Do you feel, like so many others, that your situation is highly stressful, frustrating, or overwhelming? If so, you can take the following steps to prevent caregiver burnout.
Caregiver Burnout Prevention
1. Talk to someone – Confide in a trusted friend or family member. Vent your feelings and receive validation for your concerns. Talk to a professional. Any trained therapist, social worker or clergy member will be able to understand your situation and provide actionable ways to help you cope.
2. Join a caregiver support group – You are not alone. There are so many people who are dealing with a similar situation, and there is a support group within reach. Find a group where you can share your experiences and feelings, exchange information and ideas, and not feel isolated. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging, find your local chapter of the AARP. They all have information on how to find caregiver support groups in your area.
3. Use respite care services – They provide a temporary break for caregivers, from a few hours in your home to a few days in a care community. This will give you time to regroup, take a breath, and do the important work of focusing on yourself.
4. Get connected online – There are internet support groups, Facebook groups and national organizations out there to help you. The U.S. government has an online eldercare locator. The AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association have a community resource finder, and the Family Caregiver Alliance has an online family care navigator to help you locate resources near you.
5. Set realistic goals – Understand your time and knowledge limitations and reach out to others, family members or professionals, to fill in the gaps. Give yourself a break. Don’t expect too much from yourself or you’ll only become frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed.
6. Don’t forget about yourself – You can’t take care of anyone else until you have taken care of yourself. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. You’re not being selfish, you’re being sensible. Eat well, exercise, find time to do things that make you happy. Get enough rest. Use the above resources to make sure you’re doing everything you can to find as much balance in your life as possible. This is the most important step to preventing caregiver burnout.
7. Be realistic about your loved one’s health condition – If the disease is progressive, like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, professional help will at some point become necessary. Educate yourself about the disease and use that knowledge to make the best decisions for them and for you.
The Benefits of Full-Time Care
If your loved one’s illness has progressed, there may come a time when it’s okay to talk about the possibility of moving your loved one into a full-time senior living community. This is not to help you. It’s to help them. Talk about how their quality of life could be improved if they were being cared for by dedicated professionals. They would have access to specialized equipment, comfortable amenities and the latest technology to maximize their physical and emotional health.
If your loved one has experienced a short stay at a care community because you’ve used respite care, perhaps their experience there was a pleasant one, where they were expertly cared for by compassionate professionals. This could be an effective discussion starter about the advantages of moving to a senior living community. You could arrange for a short stay for your loved one at a care community to serve as an introduction to the possibility of a permanent move.
Use these above tips to empower yourself to provide the best possible care for your loved one, even when the time comes that this care does not primarily come from you. And never forget to take care of yourself. Caregiving is a selfless act of love, and the best way to do that is to take care of yourself, too.
To find out more about the care services at Edgemere, fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page. We have resources and knowledge, and we’re here to help you.