Taking care of a loved one with physical disabilities or mental impairment can be an honor. It can be very satisfying and rewarding. However, realistically it can also be very challenging, stressful and extremely exhausting over the long term.
If caregivers continually prioritize their family member’s needs over their own, or don’t maintain a healthy mental state, caregiver burnout can quickly result. Caregiver burnout is a serious situation with serious consequences.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of complete physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It often leaves the caregiver overwhelmed and unable to cope with the stresses and challenges of caregiving.
It can lead to a number of detrimental consequences, including:
- Mistakes that endanger a loved one’s health, such as mismanaging medication or not recognizing an important change in their medical condition
- An increase in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol abuse
- An increase in health problems in the caregiver
- Mental health or emotional problems including depression and mood swings
- Neglect or abuse of the elder
What are some Signs of Caregiver Burnout?
Caregivers experiencing stress and burnout may exhibit some of the following signs:
- Persistent exhaustion
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent colds or other health problems
- Difficulty concentrating or relaxing
- Frequent feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, impatience or resent
- Tendency to overreact to small problems
- Denial about their loved one’s condition
- Social withdrawal
- Trying to cope by drinking, smoking or overeating
- Neglecting responsibilities and own care needs, whether due to being too busy or just not caring
- Foregoing activities for relaxation, renewal or leisure
- Life revolves around caregiving
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
How to Treat or Prevent Caregiver Burnout
To treat or prevent caregiver burnout is essential that the caregiver be able to meet their own needs. This means taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. They will need to be realistic about the demands that they are facing in their situation and be willing to seek or accept the help and support needed.
Some of the ways that experts recommend treating or preventing caregiver burnout include:
- Take a break
- Get out of the house
- Take care of physical health
- Don’t skip the doctor
- Exercise regularly
- Meditate or relax regularly
- Eat nutritionally
- Sleep well
- Connect with friends, family or other supportive people
- Talk about feelings
- Maintain personal relationships
- Get to church Join a support group
- Relinquish some responsibility and control
- Seek help, and accept it when offered
Home Care Services can Help
While it can be hard for caregivers to find time for self-care – let alone a break – when it feels everything is on their shoulders. Home care services can make an incredible difference to people in this situation. Home care services can be customized according to each individual family’s needs and preferences, and can help in a variety of ways. A few examples include:
- Taking over tasks like light housekeeping or laundry
- Preparing nutritious meals
- Transportation to church, support groups or other community connections
- Respite care to allow the caregiver to have a break and get out of the house without worrying
- Help with personal care or companionship needs
- Taking the person out for a walk or drive
Help is available when caregivers reach out and communicate their feelings, needs, and specific challenges. They need to be willing to accept help – their wellbeing, and their loved one’s, depends on it.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING CAREGIVERS IN LAS VEGAS, NV, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF SUMMERLIN. 702-800-4616.