Caregiver Burnout Prevention

There are a lot of people out there working hard for their money each and every week, but what about those who are working for free? There are people out in the world who devote their lives day in and day out to taking care of a disabled or chronically ill family member or friend. Taking care of someone each and every day can become exhausting and overwhelming. If the stress of this accumulates and builds up over time, you will find that you will burn out. This can damage your mental and physical well-being. Requesting support to get through these times is essential. You are not alone in this situation, and there is help for caregivers out there if you feel you need someone.

Family Caregivers: Information about Burnout

Being a caregiver is an act of compassion, kindness, and love. Taking care of someone might feel good or might simply be a necessity, but it can lead to burnout. Though the quality of lives can be increased through technological advances, people still need caregivers today more than ever. One day you might even need one. Unfortunately, the kind act of caregiving can be something that puts a lot of stress on the caregiver without the right support to back you up. Changes in the family dynamic, financial pressure, household disruption, and the amount of work involved in caring for someone are all stressors that a caregiver has to deal with. The rewards that the caregiver gets in return are not guaranteed, and perhaps the feeling of knowing you took care of them the best you could is the only reward you will receive. All of the stress will pile up over time if you do not deal with it, and despair and even frustration can come along with it. At this point, burnout might be on the horizon, and it is time to take steps to avoid it. 

10 Tips for Family Caregivers

1. Accept Your Feelings.

Caregiving is an emotional service, and you must accept the emotions you have and deal with them as best you can. In this way, you will not compromise the well-being of the person you are caring due to your feelings getting the better of you.

2. Know Your Own Limits.

You need to be realistic when it comes to time management. How much time can you actually spend caring for the person? You should set these limits, and let everyone involved know what they are. This includes other caregivers, your family members, and doctors. You do not want to overdo it when caring for them. This is not good for you or them.

3. Confide in Those Close to You.

You need to talk about the feelings you have, and any frustration that you feel about caregiving. Bottling up the emotions is not good for you. This could lead to burnout. You can go to a counselor, talk to a friend or family member, and even get help from caregiver support groups.

4. Trust Your Instincts.

You want to make sure you are making the best decisions for you and the one you care for. Normally your instincts lead you in the right direction so listen and follow. This is not always easy to do because the demands on your time can skew your view of what is important, but you are the person who knows yourself best. 

5. Educate Yourself.

Educating yourself will allow you to be the best caregiver you can be. You should be aware of any symptoms that a condition is worsening, or anything that might happen that is normal for the condition the person has. The more you can learn and know, the more effective you will be as a caregiver. You will also feel much better about the effort you are putting into their caregiving.

6. Reward Yourself.

It is a hard job to care for someone you know. Taking breaks is something that should be rewarding and helpful. Set a goal or schedule a vacation in advance. It might also be a good idea to set up this vacation with a loved one, as the time you have been spending taking care of someone else is likely time you are not spending with your spouse or children. It may be time to reconnect.

7. Promote Independence.

For your sake and the sake of the person for whom you are caring, you do not want to do everything for them. There is a difference between taking care of the loved one and doing everything for them.

8. Accept Help.

There is a tendency among caregivers to take on the entirety of caregiving. In order to avoid this, get your family involved as much as possible. Let them know what they can do to take a bit of the responsibility off your shoulders to make your weight lighter. This will allow you to relax a little more.

9. Do Not Ignore Signs of Depression. 

If you sense any sort of depression, you should talk to a doctor. This will allow you to make sure you are taking care of yourself, and not getting lost in taking care of someone else. Depression is a serious illness, and one that is common among caregivers, so get yourself checked out immediately.

10. Grieve

Often, caregivers do not give themselves time to grieve the fact that they have lost the loved one as he or she once was. This lack of grieving puts undo stress on the caregiver and unfair expectations on the loved one. There has been a certain type of loss in this process, so feel free to grieve it.

Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout

If you go through caregiver burnout, you are no longer going to be able to take care of yourself or the person for whom you are caregiving. Not for want of desire, you may no longer be physically able to muster up the energy necessary to continue your efforts. Knowing the warning signs of burnout before they hit is essential to both of your well-being. Make sure to take action as soon as you see any of these warning signs to beat the burnout before it happens.

Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout

You feel hopeless, overwhelmed, and helpless.

You feel exhausted all of the time, even when you take breaks or naps. There seems to be a big lack of energy, no matter what you do.

You become chronically ill.

You become irritable or even impatient with the loved one you are caring for.

Your life seems to revolve around taking care of your loved one, and you get little to no satisfaction from doing so.

You neglect your needs because you do not care, or you do not have enough time to care for yourself.

You have a hard time just relaxing and taking time for yourself, even when your loved one is taken care of by someone else.

Types of Caregiver Support Groups

Support groups bring caregivers closer together in order to allow them to talk about the problems they are all facing, and listen to and empathize with one another. You will get help from doing this, and help others with solutions as well. You will know that you are not alone. A lot of people might also be dealing with the same illness you are dealing with, and this can be a lifesaver and allow you to relate to those people more.

Community support groups are great when you want to meet people who live near you, and talk about your problems face-to-face. This also allows you to get out of the house and away for a little while so you can enjoy your time. The meetings are usually on a set date and time, but you have to attend them when they come around in order to get the full benefit from the group. You can learn more about local resources and support through these groups since everyone is from the same area.

Internet support groups are great when you want to meet more people from around the world. You meet online, and there might not be a set time or date; the support group might just be a chat room that you can come and go as you please. You do not have to leave your home in order to get the help you need either, which might be convenient to you. You might have a better chance at finding someone that is taking care of someone with the same disease.

You can find a community support group by asking hospitals, doctors, or a local organization that deals with the disorder your loved one has. You can look up internet support groups online through a web search.