Preventing Caregiver Burnout
August 7, 2013 | Found In: Caregiver Tips
Are you the primary caregiver for a loved one? There are an estimated 75 million adults in North America caring for an elderly, chronically ill or disabled family member. A vast majority of these family caregivers are part of the “sandwich generation,” also raising children and working full-time. As a result of balancing all these responsibilities, many family caregivers suffer from high levels of stress, which can negatively impact physical and mental health and lead to a phenomenon known as caregiver burnout. Here are some strategies to relieve stress and prevent burnout:
- Make the most of your “me” time: Time away from caregiving should be scheduled and spent on activities that you enjoy and that can keep you focused and centered. From joining a yoga class to resuming a weekly book club with friends, staying involved in personal hobbies is important to maintaining your emotional and psychological health.
- Join a support group: There are multiple opportunities for caregivers to participate in forums or support groups at local senior centers. Sharing your fears and concerns with others can go a long way toward combating symptoms of depression and you may also receive valuable advice from other family caregivers in similar situations.
- Be a healthy you: A key to staying healthy as a family caregiver is taking a preventative approach, which means taking care of your health—visit your doctor regularly, exercise consistently, eat a well-balanced diet and socialize with friends and loved ones.
- Ask for help: Consider reaching out to volunteers at a senior center or church to help with some tasks or consult with a geriatric care manager who can provide guidance. To give yourself or a caregiver you know a break, consider hiring a professional caregiver, even if just for a few hours a day or only on weekends.
- Watch for warning signs: Stay alert to the symptoms of burnout. These include a weakened immune system (i.e., more frequent colds or other sicknesses), low energy, increased irritability, withdrawal from social situations and loved ones, increased reliance on alcohol or medication to relax and loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities.
Be sure to share these ideas with others caregivers you know. Taking care of yourself is essential to being able to provide the highest quality care to your loved one and to maintaining your own quality of life. Dr. Kathy Johnson, Geriatric Care Manager, founder and chief executive officer of Home Care Assistance explains, “The best role you can play is that of son, daughter, loved one and to rekindle the original relationship you had with the person you’re caring for. There is no guilt in that.”
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