As a caregiver of an aging loved one your days are long and filled with responsibilities. Taking care of yourself is at the end of the list – and it stays there. You may feel run down, lethargic and like you are burning the candle at both ends. These are some of the symptoms caregiver stress and burnout and you should pay close attention to them. If you fall into full-fledged burnout it will significantly impact your ability to care for your loved one.
46% of caregivers suffer from depression, just one of the signs of caregiver burnout. Others include:
- You have much less energy than you once had
- You are constantly sick and rundown
- You are constantly exhausted even though you sleep at night
- You neglect your own needs because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
- Caregiving is a source of anxiety and gives you little satisfaction
- You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for
- You feel helpless and hopeless.
There are ways to address these feelings and regain your energy with simple, common sense strategies. If you are suffering from burnout, some of these suggestions may seem impossible to carry out. You really have no choice; to ignore burnout is to risk your ability to care for your loved one.
1. See a doctor:
Make a doctor’s appointment with your primary care physician. There may be underlying causes for your fatigue and malaise like high or low blood pressure or high or low blood sugar. Your doctor can help you get back on track to good health.
2. Exercise a little every day:
You don’t have to go to the gym. Walk around the yard. Jog up and down the driveway. Put on some music and dance inside the house. Moving will increase the amount of oxygen in your heart, lungs and brain and will help you to feel better immediately. When seniors exercise regularly and work fitness into their daily routines, it will boost their energy levels and help fight fatigue.
3. Learn to meditate:
This doesn’t mean that you have to go to a mountain top retreat! It means that you find a quiet spot every day for 5 or 10 minutes of quiet reflection and deep breathing. When your loved one takes a nap, sit in a chair and practice deep breathing for relaxation. Find a beginner’s Yoga practice on DVD, online or through a television service. Yoga will relax your muscles, your mind and improve your energy levels.
4. Eat well for more energy:
Feed your body with healthy food that will fuel your energy. Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil will give you steady energy.
5. Get a good night’s sleep:
Using the hours when you should be sleeping for other tasks will actually give you diminishing returns. You need 8 hours of sleep a night. When you get less, your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.
Caregivers spend most of their time caring for our loved ones, subsequently creating an opening for stress, fatigue, and breakdowns. Preventing caregiver burnout can’t be done with tact and preparation; additionally, Home Care Assistance also offers respite care to support and mitigate this unfortunate phenomenon.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is a type of assistance that allows the family caregiver to take a break from care-giving. This type of care focuses on helping family caregivers recharge, ease their stress, and avoid caregiver burnout. Rather than spending time attending to daily duties, respite care provides assistance and support to the family caregiver. Keeping the caregiver healthy and supported results in higher quality time spent together. The longer a family member can provide appropriate care, the longer the loved one is able to stay comfortably at home.
Role of a Family Caregiver
The role of a family caregiver can be an honor and a privilege. Some caregivers acknowledge they enjoy having the opportunity to “repay” their parent by caring for them. Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but intense or long-term care can often have a negative impact on the caregiver’s health and well-being. This is especially difficult if you are a first-time family caregiver.These individuals often struggle with balancing their role as a caregiver with their own family’s needs, or caregiving and paid employment. This often leads to a situation where the caregiver feels overwhelmed and confused about what steps to take next in their caregiving journey combined with the effects of anticipatory grief, and may put the family caregiver at risk of:
- Psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and anger
- Health related issues resulting from chronic stress, lack of sleep and/or physical exercise
- Personal financial problems
- Negative career consequences
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Elderly abuse
In order to prevent the risks mentioned above, you should consider respite if you’re a caregiver.
Types of Respite Care
Respite care can be provided at home or in a long-term care facility. Care can be provided by friends, neighbors, family members, volunteers, or a home health care service provider.
Some examples of respite care services include:
- Personal Care
- Meal Preparation
- Medication Reminder
- Light Housekeeping
Respite care also benefits the person receiving care in the following ways:
- Developing and nurturing the care recipient’s social, recreational and life skills;
- Reducing stress and improving long-term functioning of both caregivers and care recipients;
- Preventing crisis situations and elder abuse.
Respite Resources are Available and Necessary for Family Caregivers
If you are a family caregiver, find some time this summer to focus on you. You deserve an extra hand or some time to take care of yourself. Nano Home Care offers respite care and home health services that are individualized and designed especially for you. Contact us about home care services at 01 800 688 8688.