As a caregiver, it’s easy to be so engrossed in taking care of someone else that you forget to take care of your own health. But it’s only when you take care of your health that you can effectively help others. For this reason, we’ll be looking at the effects of caregiving on your health, what you should do to avoid to caregiver burnout and how to quickly identify caregiver burnout symptoms.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a form of exhaustion that affects your mind, body and emotions. It may be marked by a change in your mood, from a positive to a negative or complacent one. Burnout may take place when caregivers don’t receive the assistance they need or when they attempt to do more than they have the capacity for, either financially or physically.
Caregiver burnout is usually accompanied by stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, most caregivers feel guilty about spending time on themselves.
How Can a Caregiver Avoid Burnout and Take Care of Themselves?
To avoid caregiver burnout, you should take these steps:
- Find a trustworthy confidant like a friend, neighbor or co-worker, and tell them about your frustrations and exhaustion.
- Be realistic about your goals. Don’t take on too much work. Ask others to help you with some tasks.
- Understand the nature of your loved one’s condition and be realistic about it, particularly if it’s a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
- Don’t neglect your health because you’re busy taking care of another person. Set time aside to care for yourself every day even if it’s just one or two hours. Remember that taking proper care of yourself is essential for you to be an effective caregiver for your loved one.
- Speak with a professional. Schedule a brief meeting with a professional counselor. You can choose a social worker, therapist or clergyman who’s trained to counsel individuals with physical and emotional challenges.
- Make use of respite care services. A respite care service will give you a temporary break. This could be for just a few hours to receive in-home care or in an assisted living facility.
- Mind your limits and do a regular check of your fitness. Accept your potential for burnout and avoid it.
- Get informed. Educate yourself about your loved one’s illness. The more knowledge you have about it, the better care you’ll provide.
- Adopt new tools to cope with the situation. Focus on the positive aspects of your situation. Get some humor into your day through TV, radio or books, and use it to reduce daily stress.
- Eat a healthy diet. Make sure you eat at least three well-balanced meals daily.
- Get sufficient exercise and sleep. You need to sleep well for at least eight hours every night and do simple exercises. For example, you could take a 30-minute walk at least three times a week to maintain fitness.
- Join a group for extra support. You can share your experiences and feelings with other caregivers in a support group. This will enable you to manage stress, find useful resources and remain connected to other people.
- Use home health services. Talk to an agency that can provide in-home care or contact a nurse, if you need extra help when your loved one is very ill.
- Use a caregiver support service. You can receive highly-focused help from a service that’s committed to helping people in your situation.
- Consult national organizations. Search for local chapters that can help those dealing with stroke, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. They’ll be able to answer questions about support groups and respite care.
What Are the Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout?
The main caregiver burnout symptoms are almost the same as those of depression and stress. In most cases, they include the following:
- Being easily irritable
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, sedatives and other medications for sleep
- Intense exhaustion that makes you physically and emotionally weak
- An unhealthy feeling that makes you desire to hurt yourself or your loved one
- Frequent illnesses
- Changes in your sleep patterns accompanied by tiredness in the morning and difficulty sleeping at night
- Changes in your appetite — either eating too much or loss of appetite
- Rapid increase or loss of weight
- Having a feeling of hopelessness
- Losing interest in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed
- A tendency to withdraw from friends and family
Caregivers need to set realistic goals for themselves and take proper care of their health to avoid burnout. Recognizing the early signs of burnout will also help prevent a total breakdown of emotional and physical health.
Help ensure your loved ones get the care they need and schedule your visit to Cornwall Manor today.