Caregiver Burnout – Mental and Physical Health of Family Caregivers
Most caregivers who provide care to an older family member or friend are doing so out of love and compassion. They want to help their loved one get through this difficult time in his or her life, but what happens when the caregiver becomes so overwhelmed that he or she begins to have feelings of resentment toward their loved one? There is a term for this phenomenon that caregivers often experience. It’s called caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is not only frustrating for the caregiver, but it can also place a huge strain on the relationship with an older family member or friend. So if you think that your caregiving efforts might be leading to this very serious and negative consequence, what is there for you to do?
Definition of Caregiver Burnout:
“Caregiver burnout is a condition in which a person is providing care for an extended period of time with little to no relief.” Caregiver burnout is very common among spouses who take care of their elderly wives or husbands, but it can also happen in other situations when one person is helping another with everyday tasks.
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout:
- A loss of focus on caregiving tasks.
- Difficulty performing usual daily activities.
- Relationship difficulties with the senior.
- Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities.
- Feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness.
- Physically drained without energy.
- Loss of motivation & Depression
How to Avoid Caregiving Burnout? Caregiver Burnout Prevention
Understanding caregiver burnout is important because it can lead to depression, mood swings, and even physical problems. While it may be difficult at first to admit that you are suffering from caregiver burnout, it’s important to take the steps necessary to avoid exacerbating the problem. By taking care of your own needs as well as those of your senior loved one, you will be able to continue providing the best possible care.
If you are concerned about your ability to perform your caregiving role, or if you are feeling resentment toward your loved one, it is time to take action. There are several things you can do in order to avoid feeling burned out and exhausted by all of the stress that comes with being a long term caregiver for a parent, spouse, partner or loved one.
Here are some tips that may help to protect both you and your relationship with the person whom you are caring for.
1) Make Sure Your Physical Needs Are Met
Often when caregivers begin to feel overwhelmed, they will neglect their own needs. This is a big mistake and it can lead to caregiver burnout. Caregivers must learn how to take care of themselves and practice self care.
Make time for yourself every day just so that you can relax, read a book, watch some TV, or whatever it is that makes you feel calm and at peace. Avoid over scheduling yourself. You need time to rest and relax, so don’t fill up every minute of your day with appointments for the two of you.
Learn how to say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and it takes away from the time that you have set aside for self care, tell them “no”
Eat healthily. Take care of yourself by eating nutritious foods. Exercise regularly to reduce stress, control your weight, and strengthen your heart. Get enough sleep so that you can function at an optimal level. Your body needs adequate rest in order to heal itself and rejuvenate your mind and body.
2) Structure Your Day and Write A Schedule
Adding structure to the day is a great way to help caregivers avoid caregiver burnout. Having a schedule can allow you enough time for yourself and your family members so that everyone feels taken care of. Scheduling in chores and fun activities is just as important as scheduling quality time for yourself.
Having some time away from the care recipient is extremely important. It can be difficult to leave your loved one with someone else for some time each day, but it is necessary in order to avoid caregiver burnout. Having your daily routine down on paper will help you remember what needs to get done and how much time you will need for yourself.
Taking Breaks: It is very important to take small breaks in order to avoid caregiver burnout. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, you should sit down and relax each day without any interruptions. Whether this means going for a walk or having a cup of tea. Do whatever feels best for you at that moment so that you can recharge for later hours of the day.
3) Practice Optimism
It can be very tempting to fall into a pattern of negative thinking, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed and burned out. But doing so will only make things worse. Try to stay positive and optimistic about the situation in order to maintain your own sanity. Read about home health care services to understand more.
Look for ways that you can find joy each day. Find at least one thing to be thankful for in your life. Surround yourself with positive people who are inspiring good things in you.
When negative thoughts enter your mind, practice thinking about something more pleasant or distracting. Do whatever it takes to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
4) Keep Things In Perspective
As a caregiver, when you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and attempt to see things in perspective. It is important to not ignore your own feelings. Take your feelings into consideration when making decisions.
Ask yourself if what you are feeling is valid for this situation. Give yourself time to process the emotions that you are experiencing so that they will not destabilize your mood and overwhelm you.
If you feel resentful toward the patient, remember that these feelings will not change how much you care about them. Talk to someone about what you are going through. Chances are they have gone through something similar. This can remind you that you are not alone.
5) Stay Well Informed
One of the best ways to avoid caregiver burnout is by staying well informed. The more you know about the situation, the easier it will be for you to manage what you are feeling and maintain your own emotional health. So keep yourself up to date with information pertaining to your loved one’s condition and make sure that you are in the loop when it comes to any changes or updates.
6) Make an Effort To Maintain Your Own Health & Relationships
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be very easy to neglect your own relationships. You may feel guilty about spending time away from your loved one or guilty about neglecting some of the things in your own life. But neglecting your relationships is the opposite of what you should be doing when you are feeling overwhelmed by a demanding situation.
Maintain healthy interactions with others in order to boost both your mental and physical well being
When you meet up with friends, do something that makes you happy or fulfills you in some way.
7) Seek Out Supportive People
It is important that you surround yourself with people who will give you the kind of support that you need. You may be feeling very isolated and alone when taking care of someone with a chronic illness. But, this doesn’t mean that it has to stay like this. There are plenty of resources available that can help you connect with other caregivers who are going through the same thing.
Visit forums or online chat rooms to talk about your feelings and get advice from people who have been in your shoes
Speak with a professional therapist who can help you work through any emotional difficulties you may be having
Remember, there is no reason that you should feel like you need to go through this alone.
8) Be Honest About Your Needs
It is important that you be honest about your needs and do your best to take care of them. If you don’t make the effort to take care of yourself, you will find it much more difficult to keep going when caring for someone.
Remember that if things get too overwhelming, it is okay to seek help from others. Make a list of the things you enjoy and try your best to do at least one thing per day.
Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but you need to care for yourself as well. This will allow you to provide the support that your loved one needs without burning out.
What Is the Treatment? Reach out To Family Members
The best way to treat caregiver burnout is for the caregiver to take a break from his or her caregiving responsibilities. This can be done by hiring an in home caregiver, asking friends and family to cover certain tasks, or simply scheduling time off for yourself. Sometimes it is helpful for the caregiver (and senior) to seek counseling, which may include marital therapy if the spouse is also feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the demands of caregiving.
What Can You Do to Avoid Caregiver Burnout?
It may be difficult for you to ask for help from those around you, but it’s important that you do not try to go through your caregiving responsibilities alone. Hiring an in home caregiver will allow both you and your loved one to have some time apart, which can be very beneficial.
Respite Care Services by Golden Age Companions
Golden Age Companions has been providing professional Respite Care Services for over five years to clients in Orange County. Our experienced staff is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care so that your parent, spouse, neighbor, or friend can stay safe at home while you are away.
Transportation is available if needed, and our Companions will provide nutritious snacks and meals, medications if necessary, housekeeping & laundry, light cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, small kitchen duties like washing dishes, bed making), and companionship. To get complete details of our services, reach out to us via phone or fill out the contact us form.
The decision to care for an adult family member is one of the most important decisions you will make. It can be rewarding in many ways but also requires a significant commitment to providing quality care. This dedication comes with a number of challenges that can erode your spirits and energy over time. If ignored, these feelings can ultimately jeopardize your ability to provide care or cause you to seek assistance from others.
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