Friday January 25, 2019
Being a caregiver is a difficult job that usually doesn’t have breaks, doesn’t come with textbook instructions, and can be lonely. The good news is that there are ways to manage caregiving stress. This blog offers some suggestions on how to find help and what steps to take to ease the responsibility.
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers usually don’t realize that they are experiencing burnout until physical symptoms appear, a friend or family member recommends that changes be made, or the caregiver simply feels mentally overwhelmed. Physical symptoms may include high blood pressure, tightness in the chest, fatigue, change in appetite and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms should be initially examined and monitored by a physician. If symptoms are found not to be related to an illness, after care may include:
- relaxation and deep breathing
- mindfulness activities
These activities may help manage physical symptoms and may also serve as a form of distraction.
Tips to Manage Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers often feel that it is not possible to participate in previously enjoyed recreational activities since daily responsibilities may seem endless. However, free time and hobbies are imperative for anyone to maintain a healthy mindset. If you are at first unable to find anyone to help provide care for your loved one while you take time for yourself, find ways to involve them in activities. This may include:
- Watching television together.
- Listening to music in your home.
- Preparing a meal together.
- Inviting a friend to your home.
- Reminiscing with your loved one while looking at family pictures.
It is important for caregivers to eventually be able to set aside some alone time for self-soothing activities.You may need to find respite care for your loved one if family and friends are unable to provide help. A home health care agency or adult day center can step in to fulfill this need.
If you're wondering what to do with your new found free time, some activities that have been shown to have stress reduction value are:
- Taking a short walk.
- Practicing yoga.
- Reading a book or newspaper.
- Writing in a journal to express your thoughts.
- Using the computer to communicate with friends or play a game.
Sometimes your feelings and symptoms may be too overwhelming for you to manage all on your own. Consider getting support to help reduce your stress:
- Join a support group.
- Talk with a therapist.
- Get advice from a spiritual advisor including your priest, minister, rabbi, etc.
- Meet another caregiver through a trusted source like your doctor.
- Talk to people from your support group outside of meetings.
- Get a pet. Many people find pets to be a great form of emotional support.
Education is another important aspect of getting help for caregiver burnout.
- Talk with your physician so that you can be more knowledgeable about the disease that afflicts your loved one. Learn about both emotional and physical aspects of the disease.
- Read trusted sources on the Internet, in professional journals and in books about the disease.
- Also, read and learn about the role of the caregiver and how being a caregiver is handled by different people. Learn about how caregivers are impacted by their role.
You don’t need to be alone as a caregiver. Realize that you are assuming many roles as a caretaker and it is important to find ways to reduce your stress on a regular basis. This is not a luxury but a necessity. For help locating support, call Abramson Care Advisors at 215-371-3400. A trained senior care expert is available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week.