How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
The saying goes “take care of yourself first” but how are you supposed to do this when your loved one requires your help? It’s a crossroad where EVERY family caregiver finds themselves at a certain point in their caregiving journey.
53 million Americans are providing unpaid care for relatives and friends. According to The 2020 National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) Report (in conjunction with AARP), “family caregivers now encompass more than one in five Americans” with 61% of these unpaid, family caregivers being women. As Americans age, the need for caregiving increases and more family members are finding themselves becoming the primary caregiver for their loved one(s). Most family caregivers are over 50 years old but many are in their early 40s and are referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ – as these individuals are often ‘sandwiched’ between caring for aging parents and adult children (and/or grandchildren).
With pressure coming from many angles for these family caregivers, they can often experience:
- Trouble managing work, the household(s) and self-care
- Increased anxiety around time management and being the best version of themselves for the people who need them
- Caregiver burnout and the psychological struggles that come along with routine caregiving
If you haven’t heard of ‘caregiver burnout’ before, now you have and, yes, it is a VERY REAL thing!
At some point, every caregiver will reach a point where they experience mental, physical, and emotional fatigue because caring for someone can be truly exhausting (such is the case for both family caregivers and professional caregivers, alike).
10 signs that could signal you or a caregiver you know are suffering from caregiver burnout:
- Uncontrollable anger & frustration
- Increased anxiety and restlessness
- Changes in appetite
- Being in denial of their loved one’s condition and/or having unrealistic expectations
- Hopelessness and negative thoughts
- Insomnia or changes in normal sleeping patterns
- Isolation and/or feelings of loneliness (ex. “No one understands me”)
- Things that were once enjoyable don’t bring joy anymore
- Substance misuse/abuse
Caregiver burnout is inevitable and there is no single remedy for it- rather, it’s many things that an individual should do to get themselves back on track:
- Talk about how you’re feeling – therapy, caregiver support groups, confide in friends and family
- Don’t forget about your own health – keep your medical appointments, rest when not feeling well (and find someone to fill in for you), go for walks and/or exercise to clear your mind and keep healthy etc.
- Do what brings you joy – take the time to enjoy your hobbies
- Understand that doing the best you can is enough – you are only human and you should be proud of what you have been able to do and what you will continue to do (even if you don’t feel like you are doing enough)
- Ask for help – bring in back-up support (ask family and friends to help if they are able), explore paid time off or family leave options or decide to work with an agency to help care for your loved one
By far one of the biggest struggles for family caregivers is the pressure they put on themselves to “do it all.” They set unrealistic expectations for themselves and then become depressed when they can’t exceed or, at the very least meet, these expectations. Before going down the self-destructive rabbit hole of diminishing your own self-worth, remember:
- You are strong and should be proud of yourself for all you do
- You are only human and we all need help sometimes- asking for help is OK!
- Support is only one call away
An agency, like ABC Home Healthcare Professionals, can help provide respite care for family caregivers so that they can have time for themselves and get much-needed relief. While ABC offers a variety of services to help keep your loved one(s) living safely and independently at home, homemaking (light housekeeping, meal prep) or personal care services (light housekeeping, meal prep, toileting, dressing etc) are the best place to start. The best part of home care is that- whether it is 3 hours a week or 24/7 care- YOU are entirely in control of the schedule and how many hours YOU want the support.
Do you need help caring for a loved one or do you know someone who could benefit from some additional support?
Give our team a call today – 781 245 1880!