Caregivers need to take care of themselves, too. Thirty-six percent of caregivers describe their situation as “highly stressful” according to the “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020” report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). Stress, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc on your life and health. When it becomes overwhelming to the point that you suffer from caregiver burnout, it can reduce your ability to care for yourself and provide for the needs of your loved one. By understanding the warning signs and symptoms of burnout, you can take steps to get the relief you need and ensure that you are living a happy and healthy lifestyle.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiving for a loved one can be a rewarding endeavor, but there is no denying that it also can be stressful. It can often be overwhelming, leading a caregiver to feel physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. It can negatively affect their life and health, leading to depression and feelings of resentment for the person under their care. If their burnout is not addressed, the caregiver may fail to take proper care of themselves and the person in their charge.
Take the Caregiver Stress Test
Because caregivers are often so focused on providing for the needs of their loved one, it’s easy for them to overlook the warning signs that their own health is at risk. So how do you know if you are suffering from caregiver burnout? Here are a handful of questions to ask yourself that can help you determine how much stress is impacting your health:
- Do you often feel like you have to do everything yourself, and also that you should be doing even more?
- Have you withdrawn from activities that were once a source of joy for you?
- Are you more often sad, exhausted, or angry than you used to be?
- Do you regularly feel stressed about money and health care decisions?
- Do you constantly worry about the safety of the person under your care?
If you answered, “Yes,” to one or more of the questions above, you are experiencing a fair amount of caregiver stress and likely need to take steps to avoid burnout.
How to Lessen Your Caregiver Burnout
The good news is that there are simple ways to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit and reduce your stress, lessening the amount of caregiver burnout you are experiencing.
Take Care of Your Own Health
Are you eating nutritious meals? Are you getting enough sleep each night? Are you exercising regularly? You can’t be expected to take care of someone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Practicing the habits of good personal health is critical to managing stress and avoiding burnout. Stress can lead you to cut corners, like indulging in unhealthy food choices or limiting yourself to only a few hours of sleep. Make sure your body is getting everything it needs.
You’re not alone, even if it feels like it. If you are internalizing your thoughts and feelings, that can contribute to your stress. Confide in friends and relatives or even find a support group that can help you process the complex emotions that come with being a caregiver. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling, either. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your mental health.
It can be easy to feel isolated when you’re a caregiver, which is why it is so important to maintain your social contacts. Meet with your friends and engage in social activities that bring you joy, even if that makes getting away from your daily routine and the setting of caregiving. Everyone needs a break, yourself included. Maintaining outside relationships helps avoid isolation.
Consider Respite Care
Have you considered respite care? Respite care, in the form of in-home services or a residential care setting, can help you ease the burden of caregiving. You will likely have to explore the options in your local community, but you may be able to find an adult day center where your loved one can get the care they need while you take some time to yourself
Respite Care You Can Trust at Friendship Village of Bloomington
Can you think of a community that sounds more warm and inviting than Friendship Village of Bloomington? Because that’s exactly what we have to offer your loved one. Our respite care program welcomes guests with open arms, granting them access to the unique amenities of our community, our award-winning health services and our delectable dining options.
For you, we can provide peace of mind. You’ll know that your loved one is in good hands, allowing you to take the time you need to live your own life and attend to your own needs.
If you would like to learn more about our respite care services and how we might be able to support you and your loved one, we encourage you to get in touch with our team.