Serving as a part or full-time caregiver for aging relatives is highly-rewarding, but on the flip-side it can be tiring and stressful. For example, you may be providing some daily care needs for one or both of your elderly parents, and you want to offer them the same attentive nurturing they showed you growing up. But if faced with shouldering most of the caregiving responsibilities on your own, feeling tired and stressed out can eventually lead to exhaustion and even to a common condition called “caregiver burnout”. Thankfully there are ways to protect yourself from caregiver burnout while staying refreshed. Here are some of the more effective ways to do so.
Understand the Value Your Care Provides
Helping a loved one perform their normal daily activities means that you are providing them with priceless love, time and attention. When you are feeling tired and down, remember that fact and how truly grateful the one benefiting from your care is; whether they openly express it or not. Focus on the positive outcomes your caregiving produces, and how comforted the recipient is because of your efforts. When alone, contemplate the good times and laughs that you share with your loved one, and the warm smiles you bring to their face. You can even record in a personal diary progress directly stemming from your caregiving support. Build upon each day spent with the one you’re caring for while focusing on the beneficial results.
Recruit Family Members as Caregivers
As was aforementioned, caregiving can wear you down eventually, induce stress and even cause apathy. A common scenario that plays out when in familial caregiving situations is that one adult becomes the primary caregiver and then the other adult family members fade into the woodwork. That puts too much of a burden on the primary caregiver, so it’s important to prevent burnout by sharing the responsibilities within a family. To make that happen, hold a family meeting and express your true feelings to the group, even if there are relatives in attendance you don’t particularly get along with. Lay out the daily or weekly caregiving needs.
Ultimately it’s about your sick or disabled relative, and not past disputes. Develop a game plan whereby various family members can split the caregiving responsibilities based upon their abilities. For example, your sibling might be a knowledgeable accountant who could help an aging parent manage their finances and pay their bills. Encourage one another as the game plan is implemented and progress made. It might even give you a chance to reconnect with relatives you haven’t seen for a while. In the end, sharing caregiver tasks will help ward off caregiver burnout.
Surround Yourself with Caregiver Support
Getting support in life for any of our endeavors is beneficial, and caregiving is no exception. As a caregiver who’s looking to stay refreshed and sharp, there are a number of ways to obtain support.
- Professional caregiving courses – Classes in your area are available through the Red Cross, Council on Aging, your local hospital or Alzheimer’s Association. You can also check with The Family Caregiver Alliance or AARP for caregiver courses nearby.
- Personal relationships – Grab a cup of coffee or some lunch with your friends while staying connected, catching up on what’s new and otherwise feeling supported by people within positive relationships.
- Caregiver support groups – What better way is there to learn how to be a better caregiver than to listen to others with experience and advice while sharing your challenges? Caregiver support groups exist in your area, so check with AARP or the National Council on Aging for opportunities close by.
- Hire a professional caregiver – When you need a break home care and home health agencies in your area can provide in-home respite caregivers. Their services run the gamut from taking care of your loved one’s basic daily transportation, bathing and housekeeping needs to more medically-involved ones like medication administering, wound care and physical therapy.
At the end of the day, using these support networks will go a long way to ensure that caregiver burnout doesn’t impact you.
When You’re Tired Professional Caregivers Stand Ready
Caregiving is both rewarding and tiring, and caregiver burnout is a possibility if you’re not careful. One of the options you have to prevent burnout is hiring a part of full-time professional respite caregiver through a home care or home health agency. They can give you a much-needed break and step in to provide loving care for your aging relative encompassing all levels of caregiving needs. Homecare services cover caregiving responsibilities from general housekeeping, transportation and companionship, while home health care providers address more intensive medical needs like therapy, changing bandages and post-hospitalization nursing.