Are you feeling overwhelmed or worried?
Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy?
Are you sleeping too much or too little?
“Caring for an aging loved one can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be very challenging,” said Sierra Goetz, co-founder and operations manager at the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “When you’re taking care of someone else, it’s easy to forget about your own health and wellbeing. Neglecting your own needs could lead to caregiver burnout.”
Goetz said common signs of caregiver burnout include:
- Lack of energy
- Overwhelming fatigue or worry
- Sleep problems (too much or too little)
- Weight loss or gain
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life
- Neglecting your own physical and emotional needs
- Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or angry
- Mood swings
- Headaches, stomach aches and other physical ailments
- Difficulty coping with everyday issues
“If you are experiencing any of these feelings, you’re not alone. Most caregivers try to do it all and that can eventually take a heavy toll – physically and mentally,” Goetz said.
“It’s important to understand the warning signs and seek out help if you suspect you’re burning out.”
To help manage caregiver stress and ward off burnout out, Goetz suggests:
Accepting or asking for help. If help is offered, take it. If you have to ask family or friends for assistance, do it. Be prepared with a list of ways others can help, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do.
Delegating. Make a list of daily tasks and, when possible, delegate. Maybe your spouse can cook dinner a couple of days a week or your children can take care of the laundry.
Taking breaks. Understand that it’s okay take breaks from caregiving. When someone else takes over, get out of the house. Visit friends, go to a movie, get a massage – anything that can help you relax.
Prioritizing self care. Eat well, exercise, relax and get enough sleep. If you’re not healthy, the quality of care you’re able to provide will suffer.
Getting connected. Take time to learn about caregiving resources in your community, including options for meal delivery, transportation and housekeeping.
Joining a support group. It helps to know you’re not alone. A support group can validate your feelings, offer encouragement and help you overcome some of the challenges you face. You also will be able to meet new people and perhaps build lasting friendships.
Enlisting the help of a professional caregiver. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, a professional caregiver will ensure your aging loved one is getting the best care possible – while giving you a much needed break.
“At HCAN, a partner of Tudor Oaks Home Care, we help families find the perfect balance between caring for their loved one and taking good care of themselves,” Goetz said. “From companionship to personal and dementia care, our trained, professional caregivers are committed to helping you meet the unique needs of your aging loved ones – while giving you peace of mind.”