The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation or you’re in over your head. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind and eventually lead to burnout. When you’re burned out, it’s tough to do anything, let alone look after someone else. That’s why making time to rest, relax, and recharge isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. Read on for tips on how to regain balance in your life.
Get the help you need to avoid a full-blown case of caregiver burnout.
Some symptoms that show you're getting close to emotional overload:
What You Can Do? Here are some steps to keep burnout at bay:
- Find someone you trust. Talk to a friend, co-worker, or neighbor about your feelings and frustrations.
- Set reasonable goals. Accept that you might need help from others.
- Be realistic. Set reasonable expectations about your loved one's disease, especially conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, which get more severe as time goes on.
- Set aside time for yourself. Even if it's just an hour or two, it's worth it. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it's a need.
- Talk to a therapist, social worker, or clergy member. They're trained to give advice on a wide range of physical and emotional issues.
- Use respite care services. They can give caregivers like you a temporary break. The help can range from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted-living facility.
- Know your limits. Make sure you do a reality check and don't push yourself too hard.
- Educate yourself. The more you know about your loved one's condition, the better care you can give.
- Play up the positive. Remember to lighten up when you can. Use humor to help deal with everyday stresses.
- Stay healthy. Eat right and get plenty of exercise and sleep.
- Accept your feelings. It's normal to have negative feelings such as frustration and anger. It doesn't mean you're a bad person or a bad caregiver.
- Join a caregiver support group. Share your feelings and experiences with others in the same situation as you. It can help you manage stress, locate helpful resources, and stay connected with others.
Where Can I Turn for Help?
Check these resources for some caregiving help. It can give you the time you need to recharge.
- Home health services. These agencies provide home health aides and nurses for short-term care if your loved one is seriously ill.
- Adult day care. These programs give seniors a place to socialize, do activities, and get needed medical care.
- Nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. These sometimes offer short-term stays to give caregivers a break.
- Private care aides. These are professionals who help manage care and services.
- Caregiver support services. These can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others facing similar issues, find more information, and locate additional resources.
- Area agency on aging. It can help you find services in your area such as adult day care, caregiver support groups, and respite care.
- National organizations. Search for local chapters that help people with conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and stroke. These groups can provide resources and information about respite care and support groups.