How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Providing care to someone elderly or ill can be deeply satisfying. However, caregiver burnout (or caregiver stress syndrome) is a common issue – whether you are fulfilling an important Torah mitzvah by looking after an elderly parent, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, or providing care for someone with cancer or another ailment. Not only does being a caregiver have its own set of challenges, but if you are trying to balance a busy family life and work on top of it, providing care can become overwhelming.
According to a UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report and the annual Stress in America American Psychological Association report, caregivers have significantly higher levels of psychological stress and depression than their non-caregiving peers. Similarly, the National Alliance for Caregiving notes that the physical demands and strains of heavy lifting, bathing, dressing, and helping clients in and out bed, chairs and cars can give rise to back problems and other caregiver health issues.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Learn to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout, including:
· Sleep problems
· High Blood Pressure
· Compromised immune system/Frequent colds
· Withdrawal from social activities
· Poor nutrition
· Smoking, drinking, emotional eating, and other unhealthy way to decrease stress
If you are like most caregivers, you are kind-hearted, sensitive, well-intentioned, responsible, put others first, and want to do right by your client or loved one. Yet is this very personality type that might cause you to look after others at the expense of looking after yourself.
Expert Tips on How to Prevent Caregiver Stress Syndrome
So what can you do to prevent caregiver burnout, beat caregiver stress syndrome, and stay healthy?
Here are some expert tips on how to get the emotional and practical support you need and avoid common pitfalls so that you can continue to do what you do best: Provide top-quality care.
- Pay attention to your physical and mental health
- Eat properly
- Make time for sleep and exercise
- Schedule breaks and down-time
- Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or professional about your feelings and frustrations
- Keep a journal or diary where you can vent and process emotions
- Seek assistance or respite from a professional agency that provides food, transportation, in-home care, or assisted living care
- Know your limitations
- Recognize your potential for caregiver burnout and set realistic goals about your care-giving duties
- Join a caregiver support group, allowing you to share experiences, manage stress, express frustrations, learn about helpful resources, and reduce feelings of isolation
- Seek professional mental health care to cope with stress, depression, burnout, and grief
- Educate yourself in your client’s illness, allowing you to be a more effective caregiver
- Ask for what you need and be willing to accept help
Finally, to prevent caregiver burnout, remember that taking care of yourself is not a luxury – it is a necessity.