Identifying and Avoiding Caregiver Burnout
By: Henry C. Weatherby, Esq., CLU, ChFC, CEBS
Many of our clients are caring for or being cared for by a loved one. More than 65 million Americans care for family members who need assistance due to chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. These millions of family caregivers may include spouses, parents, or children of the person receiving care. Even when family members are not providing direct care themselves, they are often still the ones who arrange for and manage the care their loved ones need. These people are still part of the caregiving team and share in the emotional and financial stresses that can result from being a caregiver. Caregivers are often so focused on the needs of the person for whom they are caring that they forget to care for themselves. This puts them at risk for caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is the physical and mental exhaustion caused by the prolonged stress of being a caregiver. If you are a caregiver, you may not even realize that what you are experiencing is burnout or that there are things you can and should do to make things better. If you are acting as a loved one’s caregiver, be alert for signs that could indicate that what you are feeling is more than just being a little bit tired. Take a look at the following list of symptoms of caregiver burnout to see if any of them apply to you:
If some of these symptoms apply to you, there is something you can do about it:
1) Protect your health. See your doctor regularly, eat a healthy diet, get sufficient rest, and make time to exercise. Stress doesn’t just affect you emotionally; it can also take a physical toll.
2) Develop a strong support system. Find a support group where you can share your situation and learn coping strategies. Talk to supportive friends and family. See a counselor or therapist to help you deal with the emotional impact of being a caregiver.
3) Accept help! Share responsibilities with other family members and friends. Forgive yourself for not being able to do everything – no one can. Giving yourself a break will allow you to be a better caregiver to your loved one. Learn to say no when your responsibilities become too much and identify people you can reach out to when you need a hand. Look into respite care, a short-term care arrangement that can provide a break for family caregivers. The time period for respite care can vary from a couple of days to a couple of months. It can also take different forms. You may prefer to find an in-home option or choose to arrange a temporary stay at a local assisted living community.
4) Stay involved with the things that make you happy. Make time for your hobbies and other interests. Read a book. Take a yoga class. Meet a friend for dinner or a movie. Don’t count running errands or doing chores as a break. Take a real break from time to time and do something for yourself.
If you need additional information about this or other Elder Care Matters, go to www.ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Professionals.
Henry C. Weatherby, Esq., CLU, ChFC, CEBS
Weatherby & Associates, PC
An ElderCare Matters Partner
If you need answers to your elder care questions, send your questions to us at:
Answers are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners, some of America's TOP Elder Care Professionals who have years of experience in helping families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services.
All Q&A's are posted on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com
If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.
For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.