Caring for an aging parent or loved one is a very challenging task. It requires a lot of time, patience and understanding.
Most of the time, caregivers become very busy taking care of others that they tend to forget to take care of themselves. This can result in to stress, anxiety, frustration and exhaustion, which may eventually lead to "Caregiver Burnout."
Caregiver Burnout can occur when a caregiver becomes overwhelmed and tired emotionally, physically and mentally. This makes it more difficult for caregivers to continue care and constantly meet the demands of their elderly loved one.
Prevent Caregiver Burnout
If you start to feel very stressed and tired, it will be best to sit down and analyze your feelings and situation. You need to understand your feelings and the reasons behind them. This will help you recognize whether you show early signs and symptoms of Caregiving Burnout so you can address it right away and prevent it from happening.
The most important thing to remember to avoid Caregiver Burnout is to set aside time and give yourself a break. Whether it is taking a day off to go shopping, watching a movie, spending time with friends, going on vacation or simply relaxing or sleeping the whole day. When you do this, do not feel guilty at all because you deserve a break for your dedication in taking care of your aging parent or your loved one.
Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout:
1. Sleep deprivation- having sleepless nights
2. Significant weight change- losing too much weight or gaining too much
3. Hopelessness- when you feel very helpless and end up being too emotional
4. Frustration- when you feel that everything is out of control and can't do anything about the situation
5. Overreacting to minor things- being unable to control patience
6. Isolation- avoiding any social events with friends and family
7. Increased Anxiety- not being able to relax
8. Physical and Mental Exhaustion- getting very tired to the point that you are not able to concentrate and think
9. Thoughts of hurting oneself or the person you are caring for
10. Feeling of Failure for constantly not being able to meet caring demands
If you are experiencing Caregiver Burnout or feel like you are about to develop this, don't be scared, you are NOT alone. In fact, lots of caregivers experience this too. The important thing to do right now is find ways on how to prevent or deal with your situation.
Here are some ways to help prevent Caregiver Burnout:
1. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically- Be sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise
2. Make time for yourself- Take a day off and do something you really enjoy. Have lunch or watch a movie with a friend.
3. Join a support group for caregivers- This will allow you to share your feelings and experiences with other people who are in the same situation
4. Know your Limits- Ask for help, if necessary. You have to accept the fact that you cannot do everything.
5. Research more about your loved ones medical condition- the more you know about the illness, the more effective you will be in providing care.
6. Share your feelings with someone you trust as bottling them up inside can lead to unreasonable outbursts. Also, it's always good to hear things from another perspective, especially from someone not in the situation.
In conclusion, be sure to take care of yourself so you can be a loving and effective Caregiver. As the saying goes: "You cannot love others until you know how to love yourself." The same principle applies to taking care of others as well.