Caregiving is a tough job, it’s a fact. There is simply no way around it. While a positive attitude and strong support system help the caregiver, it’s still a role that takes a toll on one’s emotional and physical health. There is a certain point at which the job can become too much and the caregiver throws their hands up in defeat. However, by paying attention to the signs of burnout and keeping awareness of the need for self-care, the point of no-return can be delayed or avoided altogether.
According to the American Geriatrics Society Health in Aging Foundation, the best way to prevent burnout is to get help before caregiving becomes overwhelming by following these tips:
- Get information on the person’s health conditions, functional abilities, medications, and medical providers. Knowledge is power.
- Help your loved one help him or herself by making home modifications so the person is able to bathe and dress independently, makes meals, and do other activities of daily living with more assistance than necessary.
- Ask friends and family for help, and accept it. Enough said, right? Reach out to trusted people in your circle.
- Remember self-care. It is essential for caregivers to take time out each day to exercise, eat a decent meal, journal, read, or whatever else allows for relaxation.
- Don’t take it personally. If someone has a mental illness or dementia, they may say hurtful things. Keep in mind, it is their condition. It’s not you, dear caregiver.
- Talk about it. Find someone to vent about the day and if no one is available, journal about it. It is important to express your feelings.
- Contact community resources/professionals for help. There are many options available for additional assistance. Some might be free or low cost. Check here for community resources.
Use this link to a self-assessment developed by the American Medical Association for caregivers to check-in on their own well-being. Caregiver Self-Assessment
Don’t wait until its too late. Check-in as a caregiver and determine if its time to ask for help and find new ways to manage the stress of caregiving. Interested in reading the stories of other caregivers or adding your own? Check out local support groups or online options.
Additional resources for caregivers
HealthinAging.org (800) 563-4916 | www.healthinaging.org
Caregiver Action Network (202) 454-3970 | www.caregiveraction.org
Eldercare Locator (a national directory of community services) (800) 677-1116 | www.eldercare.gov Family Caregiver Alliance (800) 445-8106 | www.caregiver.org
Medicare Hotline (800) 633-4227 | www.medicare.gov
National Alliance for Caregiving (301) 718-8444 | www.caregiving.org