Many people who come to our assisted living homes suffer from caregiver burnout. They try to take care of their mom or dad at home while still managing their own busy lives. A lot of these people fall into the ‘sandwich generation’. They have to take care of an aging parent while at the same time raise children. Even if the children are grown up, the caregivers have busy careers and lots of other responsibilities. We’d like to show you not only how to deal with caregiver burnout but also how to avoid caregiver burnout.
It is really easy to experience caregiver burnout from this type of lifestyle. And that’s a problem. Not only will it take a toll on your other responsibilities. It can also take a toll on your health. For instance, people that act as a caregiver for a spouse that has Alzheimer’s are 31% more likely to fall prey to Alzheimer’s themselves.
Other health problems caregivers experience include:
- Chronic stress
- Poor sleep
- Decreased physical activity
- Lack of nutrition
Those problems can lead to other serious health problems.
How to Deal with Caregiver Burnout
We talk to a lot of family caregivers. We’ve asked them what works for them. Here are 7 of the more popular (and seemingly effective) ideas:
Caregiving becomes harder as time goes on. It starts with little tasks here and there. Gradually over time it increases to be total care. During the earlier time come up with a plan for the total care time. Coming up with a plan very early on is one of the best ways for how to avoid caregiver burnout. That will help you prepare and know what’s coming. We offer one way to become organized in a blog post we wrote.
Learn How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
There are lots of people and resources out there who can help teach you what to expect. Here is a great resource for people struggling with Alzheimer’s in their family. There are other resources for any chronic condition.
Find a Support Group
Some of the resources may be in the form of a support group. Just knowing other families are struggling with the same problem can really help. People who have experienced what you’re going through can give you tips on how to deal with caregiver burnout. I personally know people who keep going to their support group even though their family member has passed away. They made a bunch of friends there. You can ask your family member’s doctor or medical professional about support groups in your area. Or look on the Meetup website. Facebook also has a ton of virtual support groups to join, including one specifically for family caregivers. If all else fails, just let Google find one for you.
Talk to a professional
Priests, social workers, or therapists are very well trained in helping people in these situations. Financial fiduciaries can help as well. Their perspective can help a lot.
Set time aside for yourself
It’s easy to let caregiving consume you. You have to plan some time each day for yourself. Just schedule it on a calendar and find a way to break free. Every so often take a whole day or a couple of day’s vacation from it. You will be a much more effective caregiver because of it.
Find a friend to help
Caregivers often work solo. They should work in shifts instead. Try to find a family member, a friend or even paid help to take some of the burden.
Take care of yourself
The last thing you want is two people to take care of. Especially when one is supposed to be the caregiver! Make sure you are sleeping enough, eating well and exercising.
I understand many of these tips are much easier said than done. That’s why it’s easy to experience caregiver burnout. The best tip I can give you is to stick to taking care of yourself, no matter how much guilt or anguish you feel. Your family member that is sick should care about your well-being as much as you care about theirs.