It’s hard to care for an aging loved one along with the other responsibilities in your life. Between juggling their medical appointments, morning routine, medication schedules, meal preparation, errand running, and more, you could easily become overwhelmed.
Burnout is common for those who provide care to their loved ones. In fact, AARP found that 36% of family caregivers are highly stressed from being the primary caregiver for an aging loved one. Fortunately, there are many options to help you successfully deal with that stress. Consider utilizing these resources and tips to help you reduce caregiver burnout.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur to those taking care of an aging adult. The stress from balancing the conflicting demands of your loved ones, your family and friends, and your work, and yourself could lead to losing sight of your own well-being. It can be compounded by feeling guilting of taking care of yourself rather than a loved one.
Burnout can present itself in a broad range of ways, including changes in your sleep pattern and/or eating habits, getting sick more often, untypical depression or mood swings, having a lack of energy, withdrawing from activities you normally enjoy, and general feelings of sadness or frustration. If these you are experiencing any of these, you could be experiencing caregiver burnout. Consider completing the self-assessment questionnaire from the National Alliance for Caregiving to better understand your potential level of burnout.
How do I Reduce Burnout?
- Acknowledge your boundaries. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed for being overwhelmed; it doesn’t make you a bad caregiver! Instead, an honest assessment of your current state and limits is the first step to keeping yourself healthy to then care for others.
- Set realistic goals. What used to be for your loved one may not be reality now. Instead of being stressed trying to accomplish targets that may not be possible. It’s important to set realistic goals with your loved one with an understanding of their condition. No matter their abilities, identify and focus on the most impactful ways to improve or maintain their quality of life.
- Keep yourself healthy. It’s easy to put your needs behind your loved one, but you need to stay healthy to care for them. Reestablish routines and practices, such as exercising regularly, eating well, visiting doctors/therapists/etc., getting enough sleep, that help you stay healthy.
- Dedicate time for yourself. Your mental and emotional wellbeing is also important to reducing burnout. Whether it is reading a book, having a cup of coffee, or chatting with a friend, set aside dedicated time to focus on what makes you happy can help tremendously.
- Join a support group. Caregiving can feel like a uniquely challenging experience, but there are many people going through similar circumstances as you. There are many caregiver support groups that can connect you with others caring for their loved ones. Check out this article from AARP for resources on finding and selecting support groups.
- Simplify communication methods. On top of your day-to-day duties, it can be tiring to keep your family and friends updated on your loved one’s condition. It could be helpful to have one place to keep everyone in the loop. Instead of replying to each person individually, consider utilizing a text or social media group or using websites like CaringBridge or PostHope.
- Get professional help. At some point, you may not be able to provide all the cares needed to keep your loved one safe. From limited hours in the home to extensive care in a facility, there are many services that can help you. Refer to Seniors BlueBook to learn about services in the Twin Cities metro area.
CareAparent’s Home Care Solutions
CareAparent can help lighten your load and allow you to become a spouse, family member, or friend rather than the primary caregiver. Our compassionate team can provide in-home care to address their specific needs, whether it’s a couple hours a week or 24 hours a day. We are certified by Medicare and accredited by The Joint Commission, so you can trust us to keep your loved one safe.