Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion that affects a person's physical, emotional, and mental health and leads to a change of demeanor and attitude. This condition affects family caregivers who have taken on too much responsibility (either physically or financially) in caring for a loved one and are not getting the help they need. Symptoms of this burnout are fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Often, caregiver burnout is common in the first few months of the year, as families take on new caregiving roles after visiting loved ones for the holidays. It is imperative, if you or another loved one are beginning a caregiving journey, that you establish healthy habits from the beginning to prevent burnout from affecting you in the future.
CaraVita Home Care is here to be a resource to family caregivers during their journey. We want to assist in any way possible to help you create healthy practices for yourself, so your caregiving role can be a sustainable one if you choose.
Take Some Time for Yourself
While caregiving is often a 24/7 job, it is important to commit to having some alone time doing things you enjoy that are separate from caregiving. Think about what fills you up and helps you feel rejuvenated. Consider the following activities:
- Quiet Meditation
- Yoga Class
- Reading a Book
- Grabbing a Cup of Coffee
- Going for a Run
- Meeting Friends for Dinner
Whatever activity speaks to you, make sure you regularly schedule it into your life for you to reap the benefits. A shorter activity like a yoga class or meditation may even be able to fit in your schedule on a daily basis.
Ask for Help When You Need It
If you find yourself as the primary caregiver for a loved one or family member you understand just how overwhelming it can be sometimes. Life outside of caregiving does not stop only because you have taken on added responsibility. Most family caregivers still have other family responsibilities, a house to take care of, and a full-time job – on top of focusing on self-care.
When it all becomes too much, be sure to communicate your stress-level to those around you. It is important that you rely on others and communicate your needs so they can help out. Many people are more than willing to contribute to taking some of the caregiving responsibilities off of your plate. Depending on the complexity of care needed it may be helpful to establish a training session with friends and family willing to contribute. Training will allow you to fully relax away from your caregiving duties and give your friends and family confidence in their ability to care in your absence.
It may also be helpful to establish a care schedule for these friends and family to step in and give you some much-needed time off. You should not only ask for help when you are feeling rundown, but also to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Invest in Your Health
When caring for another person, it is easy to neglect your health. However, this will impact your ability to care for your loved one successfully and will hasten a burnout.
First, make sure you are getting enough rest and uninterrupted sleep. Exhaustion is a huge contributor to health problems and caregiver burnout. Become committed to turning in at around the same time each night –8 hours of sleep is the recommended amount. Turn off all devices at the same time each night – preferably at least one hour before bedtime. Also, request that a friend or a family member become a ‘thrive buddy.' A thrive buddy is someone you can call or text that can talk you down from binge-watching that exciting show when you really should be sleeping.
Next, commit to eating healthy and meeting your nutritional needs. As appealing as the drive-through can seem when you are stressed and exhausted, it will only make you feel worse in the long run. The nutritional value of the food you will find in drive-throughs is minimal and will lead to long-term health problems. Try to prepare meals ahead of time so on days when you are low on energy you can stick to nutritional meals with little effort. Consider investing in a crock pot or pressure cooker; both can alleviate kitchen and clean up time.
Finally, exercise as regularly as possible. This goes back to the first part of taking time for yourself. While it may seem counter-intuitive, regular exercise will give you more energy. Exercise helps improve stamina and will help you rest better. While going to the gym every day may be out of the question for many family caregivers, try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of walking or look for an exercise video you can complete after your loved one goes to bed.
Seek Professional Resources
Senior care providers, like CaraVita Home Care, are here to prevent caregiver burnout. If you do not have other friends or family members who can assist with caregiving, or you need additional help, in-home care is a great option. Bringing a home care worker into your home, even a few times a week, can provide you the emotional and physical break you need. Along with allowing you to have some uninterrupted time for yourself during the day, in-home care can also give you a reprieve during the night.
If you would like more information on how in-home care can assist your family, please contact CaraVita Home Care or complete our care assessment survey to begin.