It is estimated that over 40 million adults care for parents, grandparents, or another adult whom they live with. Being a caregiver is one of the most important and selfless things a person can do, and it can be truly hard on the caregiver. The stress and toll that being a caregiver has on the body, mind, and overall well being often leads to caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout syndrome is a real thing. Once that point is reached, it may be difficult to be in your role as caregiver, and even more difficult to take care of yourself, your job, and other family needs. Caregiver burnout prevention is a must to ensure your loved one gets the care they need but also requires that you take care of yourself as well.
Caregiver Burnout Prevention: Knowing the Signs
Perhaps you are so busy taking care of your loved one that you don’t even fully feel the stress you’re under. Or, you are feeling levels of stress and frustration, but aren’t even sure how to go about alleviating the pressure you’re under. One of the most important aspects of caregiver burnout prevention is knowing the signs of caregiver burnout. Some of these signs can mimic symptoms of depression, so it may be tough to tell. Family caregiver burnout signs include:
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Lack of energy/fatigue
- Sleep issues (oversleeping or insomnia)
- Being unusually agitated, impatient, or lashing out
- Anxiety (more than usual)
- Hopelessness and dread
- Weight gain or weight loss (sudden)
- Headaches or GI upset
- A proclivity to catching colds or illness (weak immune system)
If you read through the signs of caregiver burnout and silently are saying in your head, “check, check, check,” then it’s time to learn about caregiver burnout prevention and treatment. If you’re deep in experiencing the signs of burnout, part of the goal is to get yourself out of it, and treat the problem so it does not recur.
Caregiver Burnout Prevention and Treatment
One of the first things to do for caregiver stress and burnout is to ask for help. If you ask family and friends and there is simply no one to help you on a weekly basis for a few hours, respite care is something you should look into immediately. Depending on the circumstances, it is often covered by insurance or Medicare.
You may also often hear, “take care of yourself first.” While this is a top tip for caregiver burnout prevention, you may not even know what this entails. It means that you need to give yourself permission to take breaks, to schedule something nice for yourself once in a while (spa visit, catch a movie with some friends), and to put your needs first whenever possible. If you don’t put yourself first, at some point it will become impossible to take care of someone else. Help for caregiver burnout begins mainly with you putting yourself first
Other Tips for Caregiver Burnout Prevention
No matter where you fall on the caregiver burnout scale, diving feet-first into caregiver burnout prevention is the best idea for you and your family. Another great tip when it comes to caregiver burnout prevention is to join a support group. There are many out there, both online and in-person, that gives you the opportunity to talk about some of the things that bother you most with other people that understand. Recovering from caregiver burnout is much easier with the help of others who understand.
Another good idea when it comes to caregiver burnout prevention is to learn to communicate effectively. If you are taking care of someone who also has staff attending to them (such as visiting nurses, therapists, and other family members), you may want to consider a site such as CaringBridge or PostHope to post updates about the patient’s progress. This way, you are not relying on long texts and phone calls that tie you up and prevent you from doing other things. For instance, if your dad’s surgery went well, you can post a quick update to CaringBridge and everyone following the page immediately has the information they need. While this sounds like a minor detail, a big part of caregiver burnout prevention is eliminating the unnecessary things from your day. Some days, you just won’t have the time to talk to everyone.
As a caregiver, if you’re looking for even more ideas to make your life simpler, there are many mobility products that can help. Contact Williams Lift Co. today for more information about stair lifts, ramps, and other needs that can make your role as caregiver less of a burden.