When someone you love has a chronic, debilitating sickness like cancer or dementia, it is emotionally and physically draining. Being a family caregiver changes everything, often in the blink of an eye. Life quickly becomes an array of med counts, doctor’s appointments, filling out the necessary paperwork, assisting with necessities 24-7, and plenty of duties in between.
Burnouts can quickly arise if you do not take time to step back and re-evaluate your workload when caring for an older family member. Check out these signs of caregiver burnout and tips to help you avoid this dreadful collapse; perhaps it’s time to find a caring aide that can help you out!
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
There are some pretty prevalent warning signs that your candle burning at both ends has taken its toll including:
- Feeling exhasted constantly
- Sudden changes in weight
- Sleep disorders
- Depression, anxiety, or hopelessness
- Avoiding things you once found enjoyable
- Irritability toward the person for whom your caring
- Getting sick frequently
Perhaps the most telling sign is self-neglect. You put yourself last in everything. You feel empty. There’s no red cape in sight.
There is a saying, you can’t drink from an empty well. You also can’t serve out of it. Time to find a way of avoiding caregiver burnout.
10 Tips to Help you Avoid Caregiver Burnout
- First, and foremost, ask for help. You don’t have to go it alone. Friends, family, or a hired prfessional aide can take over a doctor’s appointment or two, as well as take over any necessary shopping.
- Talk to your insurance company to see if they can get you an aid who comes regularly. An agency can create a care plan, which may include things like vacuuming, helping with laundry, and providing socialization.
- Remember self-care. Take a long, hot shower. Get a massage. Just get out of the house regularly, even for an hour (perhaps while they sleep).
- Take a moment for quiet. In the morning, before all the hustle and bustle, sit, breath, and listen to blissful silence. It’s a great healer.
- Create a reasonable to-do list, putting things in order of priority. Honestly, some things can wait! Organization relieves the sense of chaos.
- Speaking of lists, make an emergency information page and keep it in a visible location. The page should list doctors, medications, risk factors, and contact information. It is easier when you know emergency instructions for your loved one is ready and organized for anyone to review! Being prepared will often decrease unwanted stress.
- Find out if you qualify for family leave. This can be a huge blessing at the outset of a situation. It will give you time to set up your home so it meets your loved one’s needs. You also won’t be balancing home and work, at least for a while.
- Seek support groups. There are many online so you don’t have to leave your loved one unattended.
- Try relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing when you feel yourself getting overly distressed.
- Educate yourself. The more you know, the more power you have in determining the best approach for your loved one’s care.
Also, learn how to say NO. Being a caregiver does not turn you into a server, chef, or maid. You do not have to cater to every whim. Over time, chronically ill people may rely too heavily on others for things they could do themselves, like getting a glass of water. Saying no in such moments not only encourages them to remain independent as a vital part of their overall wellness, but it says YES to you.
Again, as a reminder, you don’t have to handle all of your loved one’s care by yourself. There are systems in place so you can get in-home help. Here at VMT Home Health of DC, we offer 35 years of experience. On top of daily living needs, we also have a bilingual staff ready to assist you. Don’t wait until you’re completely distraught. Call us today and allow us to relieve some stress and workload.