When you are a caregiver, it is easy to want to put your loved ones health before your own. Make your health a priority as well when caring for your loved one. We want to make sure that both of you are receiving the care that you need to remain healthy. Coping with stresses and feeling a little strained comes with the job of being a caregiver. In order to make sure that we can continue taking care of our loved one, we must be able to recognize our personal limitations and learn to care for ourselves as well as others.
It is important for us to make a conscious effort to see and recognize the signs of becoming burned out when you are a caregiver. In order to do so, we need to be aware of what the major tell-tale signs are. Burnout is not like a common cold. You don't always notice when you have fallen victim. Very much like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms of burnout can begin surfacing months after a traumatic episode.
Here's a list of symptoms to be looking for in ourselves as well as others:
- Feelings of depression
A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue
Decreasing interest in work
Decrease in work production
Withdrawal from social contacts
Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol
Increasing fear of death
Change in eating pattern
Feelings of helplessness
Below are some ideas of how to avoid caregiver burnout so you can enjoy your time spent with your loved one. By becoming their caregiver, it changes the relationship that you have with your loved one. Instead of being able to enjoy your time with them, you feel responsible for everything which add a lot of stress onto your relationship.
- Ask for help. It’s important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of care-giving. When someone offers to help, let them. You’re not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Accepting help for mundane tasks such as grocery shopping and cleaning can free you up to spend more quality time with the patient. Don't be scared to ask for help or look into companies that can come and help. There are home health companies that can come and take care of the every day needs of your loved one so you can focus on maintaining your relationship.
- Join a support group. You’ll find that you’re not alone and you’ll be able to learn from the experiences of others who have faced the same challenges. There are many support groups within your community where you can go and exchange advice with each other. It is nice to attend one of these support groups because it will help you not feel alone with your issues.
- Plan for your own care. Visit your doctor for regular checkups and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of excessive stress. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care they also find more satisfaction in their care taking roles. When you are a caregiver, make sure that you are not only putting your health first, but also your immediate family. If you are a mom or dad, do not jeopardize time with your own children to be a caregiver. If you have help, then you will be able to create memories for your own family but also with your loved one you are caring for.
- Make use of available resources. There is a wealth of community and online resources to help you prioritized your efforts and provide effective care. Start by finding the Alzheimer’s association in your country. These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups. See Resources and references section below for a directory of associations.
- Learn how to manage stress. Caregiving for a loved one with dementia can be one of the most stressful tasks you’ll undertake in life. To combat this stress, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response through techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, or yoga. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce the stress of care giving and boost your mood and energy levels. When you have energy and are relaxed, it will make the stresses go away and you may find it enjoyable.
- Learn or update care giving skills. Being thrust into the role of caregiver doesn’t come with and instruction manual, but there are books, workshops, and online training resources that can teach you the skills you need. Continue to educate yourself with books, online articles and support groups about the diseases so you can understand their actions. It can be frustrating when your loved one is acting out and you do not understand why that is happening. It is important to stay informed so your knowledge progresses with the disease.
It is very easy to ask yourself, “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself? “ or “If he asks me that one more time I’ll scream!” The frustration and worry never leaves you even when you are away from them. It is important to take some time for yourself and relieve some of that stress. The tips above will not only benefit your own health but also your loved one.
These tips were shared with us by ICare home health and hospice company and by caregiving.com