If you’re a caregiver for someone elderly, chronically ill or a disabled loved one you’re not alone.
Surveys in the U.S. have recently confirmed there are over 65 million adults taking care of someone at home.
Unexpectedly they also revealed that nearly 90% of those laborers are not getting enough sleep.
Over time this anomaly puts these extremely hard workers on the pathway to caregiver burnout which can lead to all sort of setbacks according to psychologists. Often by the time you suspect signs of burnout – you’re already suffering from a myriad of ailments.
Caregivers not only must cope with the patient’s illness and the special “cares” those disablements may demand. They also may experience variations in the family’s dynamics which could add up to serious disruptions in family life.
Today’s severe financial pressures can also take a huge toll – further affecting the safety and security of the caregivers’ world.
Taken together over time such pressures eventually will affect your ability to provide good care to your patient and conceivably begin to place the caregivers own health status at risk. So what are some possible warning indicators of burnout?
Having problems handling everyday affairs.
Neglecting your own emotional and physical necessities.
A hopelessness feeling that persists.
A noticeable feeling of fatigue or lack of energy.
Changes in eating habits with resulting weight gain or weight loss.
Losing interest in activities you once thrived on.
Becoming especially impatient, ill-tempered or confrontational—with the person you’re caring for or with others around you.
Having a serious concern about the future.
Your body’s normal illness resistance seems to be plummeting rather quickly.
Noticeable stomachaches, headaches and other physical problems are beginning to reveal themselves.
Ok – most issues just listed are cases most people would like to avoid if possible.
Here are a few ways to try and reverse the trend.
First, take a break. It sounds really stupid but sometimes it’s hard to see when it’s time for a break. If nothing seems available, find slow or down times during the day that will flex with everyone’s schedule.
One thing I do often is visit with friends or fellow caregivers. Sharing a few minutes can really ease a particular burdensome day.
Get out of the house – just a few minutes briskly walking can refill your energy stores believe it or not.
Learn to sit quietly and really enjoy that cup of coffee or tea – slowly.
We are a fast-paced society and everyone wants to beat you to the finish line at all costs. Let them. Just slowing down occasionally can recharge flagging spirits and if the local competition sees you backing down – maybe they also will slow down and catch a breath.
Some people like to journal or “diary” about their personal happenings. It may help you discover shortcuts or unseen factors that tie up vast amounts of time and look for help to overcome them.
Asking for help will be one of the most difficult parts of your day – all caregivers suffer from that malady including myself.
We feel this means we’re a bad caregiver – but actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Some things just require more contribution than a single person can provide and the caregiver willing to look for help – often succeeds when everyone else may fail at the same task.
Remember your health – keep up to date with your doctor and dentist appointments.
Eat the best you can, get plenty of exercise and don’t neglect your sleep.
Look around for others that may be able to contribute time or effort. Maybe your spouse can make dinner several times a week. Often a friend or relative may be willing to help with errands or do a load of laundry for example.
At work find out if you qualify for family leave benefits. You’ve earned them and it would be a shame to let them go to waste.
Lastly stay in communication with others – as simply sharing your up’s and downs during the week may benefit your overall situation greatly. It can also make you a happier and more successful caregiver in the long run.
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