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Caregiver Burnout - Recognizing The Need For a Break and Self-Care

Apr 15, 2018 by Larry Morgan

Many caregivers underestimate the toll the hard work they’re doing can take on their bodies. Just with every profession, you need some time for yourself to recharge and regroup.

Here are some things to know about what happens when caregivers become too stressed out, and ways to help alleviate that stress:

What’s Caregiver Burnout?

You may have heard of the term “burnout” in other instances before; it means to become overworked or bored with something to the point of being just outright done with it.

This is a scary, yet easy situation caregivers can find themselves in with their work. Caring for someone else’s needs entirely for an extended period of time without thinking twice about their own needs can really wear down on a caregiver, eventually leading to burnout.

In turn, the quality of care being given to the senior drastically decreases. This becomes dangerous for both the caregiver and the senior, and can lead to abuse or neglect.

It’s important to be able to recognize signs of burnout, and to seek help immediately. Signs can include:

  • Getting sick more often than usual
  • Constantly feeling fatigued
  • General irritation
  • Poor quality/lack of sleep

Some solutions to this matter are to, first off, find someone to fill in your spot as caregiver for a bit of time, so that you can get an honest break. This can be hiring a caregiver, or having another family member step in to help out.

Something as simple as having a maid work part-time during the week to help with cleaning, yard work and so forth may also help.

Sweat Out the Stress

Many people use exercise as a form of decompression, and for good reason. Breaking a sweat helps the body to rid itself of toxins, loosen you up, and tire you out so that you can sleep better at night.

Exercising also helps to release hormones in the body to improve mood. It doesn’t have to be a grueling, long workout – a quick gym workout or a 20-minute walk around the block 3 times a week can be great.

Take Some “You” Time

When’s the last time you did the things you love to do? Do you love to draw or take pictures of nature, but haven’t done so lately? How about reading a good book while you take a hot bath, or baking a batch of your favorite cookies?

Arrange for a family member or temporary caregiver to come over and take your place for a few hours so that you can do an activity you’ve truly missed. This will help to refresh you.

Ask yourself: What if I become ill myself?

You’ve been prioritizing your loved one for so long that you’ve probably forgotten to ask yourself why it would benefit you to take care of yourself.

Ask yourself, what good of a caregiver would I be if I’m constantly sick, or if I get to the point of needing to go to the hospital? Or, worse: what if I die?

The answer is, you’d be not only hurting yourself, but your senior, too. In order to give quality care, you must be healthy yourself.

You’re Not Alone

At the end of the day, you may feel like you’re not tough enough to be a caregiver, or that you can’t handle all of this stress – but you’re not the only caregiver who feels this way.

While it is nice to vent to friends or family about your caregiver stresses, having others in the same boat as you to talk to may be much more rewarding. Look online or in your community (such as your local hospital or senior center) for caregiver support groups.

Being heard by others and hearing their struggles, too may help you to feel better and more supported in your caregiving work.

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