Preventing Caregiver Burnout

A loved one has an illness or is getting old and needs some extra help. You offer because you care for them and also because you are closest. Remember that all this dedication takes energy so taking time as a carer for yourself, helps you to recognise that your needs are equally important.

It takes a special person to put the needs of others before themselves. That is what caregivers do every day. They give their time, resources, their ear and their expertise to help out someone that they love. It can be a parent, spouse, child or friend. In some cases you are the sole caregiver for them.

Caregivers are not Energizer bunnies. They are human beings with needs of their own. At first you may feel guilty for spending time to yourself and away from those who need you. Instead, you continue to tend to your loved one’s care until all of a sudden one day it becomes too much for you.

No one wants that to happen. So, it is time to learn about caregiver burnout and how to recognise and prevent it. Burnout comes when your load becomes so heavy it feels like a burden. There is no one to help you and you can’t manage the demands anymore.

First of all you need to know that this is completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up because you’ve had a bad day or just want to get away from the person you are caring for. No matter how much we love our partner, parents, friends and children a little time away helps us recharge our batteries. Caring for a disabled loved one is no different.

As a caregiver, you don’t have to be an island. When you need time alone, call upon reinforcements to help you out. Ask other family members and close friends to help out with some of the day-to-day chores like running to the store for groceries or chauffeuring a loved one to medical appointments. The people who love you and see how hard you work will be delighted to have a chance to do something for you. So let them help you. It lets them know that you're human and that you trust them enough to ask.

Talk to social services. They can offer advice or support that can help you with whatever you need. Adult day care centres or community centres are places where seniors can go to be with others their own age and have fun. Instead of you sitting with them all the time, they can socialize.

Look into assisted living or nursing home facilities. Don't see it as an option for now but a possibility for the future. Much better to visit now and see what choices are out there. This is a big step and many don’t want to take it. But, it is hard to care for your own family and a family member who needs a lot of care. Talk with them about a facility before making such an important decision.

Have a day off once or twice a week. In that time, do something that you want. Go see a movie, read a book or even simply lie back and listen to the sounds around you. The point is that the time is yours to do with what you will and refresh your mind and body. You will be a much better carer if you are working at full energy rather then half empty.

All caregivers need a break now and again to keep their sanity. All carers sometimes feel angry or alone or overwhelmed. Prevent burnout by asking others to help you and then committing to time alone for recuperation. But remember it's just as important to be as kind to yourself, as to those lucky people who have you to help them.

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