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How Family Caregivers Can Avoid Burnout

family caregiver
By Kathryn Parks

When caring for a loved one, remember that you deserve a break! It can become very easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things your loved one will need assistance with. Here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you figure out how family caregivers can avoid burnout.

Identify Caregiver Burnout

The first thing we need to do is know what caregiver burnout is and be able to identify it. The signs of caregiver burnout are very similar to being overstressed or depressed. If you have one or more of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout:

  • Feeling disconnected from friends and family
  • Being uninterested or feeling as though you don’t have time for the activities you used to enjoy
  • Finding yourself often drinking or using medications to get sleep
  • Feeling both emotionally and physically exhausted
  • Recognizing changes in mood, being cranky, feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Finding yourself being sick more often
  • Having changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Insomnia, being unable to rest, feeling like you need to take a nap no matter how much sleep you’ve had

Understanding the Causes of Caregiver Burnout

When it comes down to it, we all live very full lives. Suddenly adjusting our daily routine to include caring for and taking responsibility for another person can be overwhelming. Often, family caregivers find themselves neglecting themselves to provide the care for their loved one. Here are some reasons that a caregiver may experience burnout:

  • Role Confusion – It can be difficult to watch your parent or loved one go from a vital, strong individual to someone who needs constant care. The same goes for watching the health of your spouse decline. It can be a very confusing time for caregivers to grasp their new role and what that entails.
  • Unrealistic Expectations – Not only do some caregivers expect home care to have a drastic positive effect on the health and happiness of their loved one, but they may also have unrealistic expectations on how much responsibility they are ideally able to add to their plate.
  • Disorganization – Many caregivers find it extremely difficult and frustrating to discover that their loved one didn’t make plans, financially or via resources, to manage their long-term care. This leads to many caregivers having the added responsibility of organizing care, finances, and resources, as well as providing it.

Other factors may contribute to caregiver burnout, such as sudden increases in other responsibilities, perhaps a new job promotion, or other family members who need support. Regardless, there are ways to prevent caregiver burnout.

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

The most impactful way to prevent caregiver burnout is to be aware that it is very real and something to be wary of. The more you know about caregiver burnout, the more likely you will see the signs early enough to do something positive about it. Caregivers can always practice the following steps to ensure that they have the highest chance of success when caring for their loved one:

  • Recognize, Understand, and Admit Your Limits – Caring for a loved one requires a good honest reality check. Recognizing and accepting what you can do for your loved one, how much time you can devote to them, and your potential for caregiver burnout if you try to do more.
  • Set Goals – Organize a schedule and a routine, accept help if needed, and turn to others for help with tasks. The more others can help with simple things like groceries, cleaning, and checking meds, the more it will free you up for the most important tasks. Set obtainable daily and weekly goals to feel like you’re accomplishing something.
  • Understand The Task – You’ll want to educate yourself and know as much as possible about what your loved one is going through. You will also need to be realistic about the amount of care your loved one will need based on the progression of their illness. Understanding what is coming up will help you plan for the future.
  • Get Support – Talk to a friend about your feelings. Find a therapist if you start feeling overwhelmed. There are also support groups and workshops available to help you find ways to manage stress.
  • Remember Yourself – You can’t care for others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Remember to stay healthy, eat right, exercise and sleep, and set aside time for yourself. Find something fun to do or a new hobby to learn. You’ll be more effective as a caregiver if you take the time to care for yourself.

Getting Help with Caregiver Burnout

Remember that you aren’t alone in caring for your loved one. If you are experiencing stress and depression, it might be time to start relieving the burden. There are agencies available to provide aides and nurses a few hours a week so that you are more able to accomplish your goals.

Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Annapolis is here for you. Providing our clients with compassionate and professional assistance is always a privilege. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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