Caregiving is perceived by non-caregivers as thoughtless work requiring no effort or participation. Caregivers stay home, give medication reminders, and complete common domestic tasks while enjoying their favorite afternoon soap opera, right? Wrong! Caring for the frail, ailing, and disabled is a grueling task repeated daily with limited sleep. Monotonous labor intensive schedules cause physical and emotional stress. Constantly answering demands of care-recipients leaves no time for self-care. Balancing work schedules and doctors’ appointments is almost impossible. Worrying about the welfare of a loved-one and having no one to discuss the possible devastating outcome leaves a mind heavy and drained of hope. No one cares about a caregiver’s anguish and suffering. Their health is no concern as long as non-caregivers can continue their uninterrupted lives.
Caregivers need adequate stress relief and dependable support systems in order to perform daily functions effectively. Depression, mental breakdowns, and aggression are all results of an overworked caregiver. Endless days and long nights allow no sleep. Caregiving duties are continuous and rarely end at a specific time. There’s no TGIF or end-of-day routine. Weekdays and weekends blend together.
When are caregivers given the opportunity to de-stress and rest? A break is a rare instance when a family member volunteers to watch the care-recipient for a few hours and the caregiver sneaks away for a little alone time. These few hours are usually spent worrying or wondering what other daily tasks need to be completed. Sadly, caregivers often don’t receive relief from their hectic schedules. Care continues until the care-recipient is satisfied or has fallen asleep. Completion may take minutes, hours, or an entire day.
Caregivers providing in-home care for loved-ones don’t have consistent work schedules and are unable to make “after work” plans. They live and sleep in their workplace. Relentless hours and limited sleep will break even the strongest person. Caregivers are expected to carry on with a smile without inconveniencing onlookers. Their crying episodes, social isolation, and anger outbursts are considered ridiculous. How can staying at home caring for one person be so stressful? You need to get yourself together! Oh you would rather put him/her in a nursing home? How can you be depressed? You’re overreacting! These are questions and statements expressed by family and friends to stressed caregivers.
Caregivers understand the demands and struggles of caregiving. These forgotten heroes need stress relief in order to maintain sanity and provide consistent quality care. A simple telephone call from a friend or relative allowing a caregiver vent time is sometimes all that’s needed. Refusing and ignoring their requests for help is narrow-minded and selfish. Without stress relief, caregivers cannot adequately care for patients. Lack of focus and physical exhaustion hinder completion of daily tasks. Denying help results in emotional breakdowns. Constant worry of grim medical outcomes causes depression and anxiety. These conditions are treated with an anti-anxiety medication prescription. The caregiver has now become the care-recipient. Caregivers’ anxieties, depressions, and stress are preventable by volunteering time and offering respite care. Thank you for reading. Take care and please share!
You’ve noticed a change in your mood and temperament. Your bright spirit is dim. Avoiding social interaction has become part of your daily routine. Happiness no longer compliments your face. You feel lonely and secluded, almost depressed. Caregiving duties are still being completed but not with the same vigor and enthusiasm. Your fast-thinking logic has been replaced with slow what-if’s. Sound familiar? Most caregivers can identify and empathize with these feelings. These mixed emotions are warning signs of caregiver stress. Ignoring these symptoms will result in caregiver burnout. Trust me, I know. Yes, there are ways you can prevent caregiver stress, but how can a caregiver recover from burnout while still providing care?
You’re overwhelmed, stressed, and on the verge of throwing in the towel. I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! But walking out the door is not an option; you must continue the daily care regimen. The patient’s well-being is dependent on you. Once you begin manifesting thoughts of defeat, you’ve entered the caregiver burnout phase. Burnout will cause a decline in your mental and physical health. This decline will result in subpar care for your loved-one. It’s the “trickle-down” effect and it begins with you.
You’ve diagnosed yourself with caregiver burnout. How can you reverse its effects and still provide quality care? You can’t do it on your own. If you’re suffering from burnout, you must voice your thoughts and opinions to family members, friends, or the attending physician. Reaching out is not admitting defeat. You’re recognizing the need for third party help in order to successfully care for your patient.
Instate a dependable support group to help with caregiving duties. Recovery involves alleviating some of the daily stress that contributed to your mental and physical burnout. Discuss ways they can help YOU cope with caregiver stress. Don’t be shy! Designate daily caregiving duties to dependable family members and friends. Don’t know where to start when assigning caregiving responsibilities? Read, How to Help a Caregiver.
Reaching the burnout phase takes time….it doesn’t happen overnight. It sneaks up on you. It’s difficult to recognize the symptoms of caregiver stress because your engaged and focused on providing quality care for your loved-one. Ideally, a caregiver would never suffer from stress or burnout. However, it’s part of caregiving’s brutal reality. Trying to combat mental and physical exhaustion while still maintaining a stable environment is extremely difficult without proper support. Being overwhelmed results in the deterioration of quality care.
The most effective strategy for recovering from caregiver burnout while still caregiving is ASK FOR HELP. Without help the everyday stress of your monotonous daily routine will continue to wreak havoc on your own health, creating a less-than satisfactory caregiving environment. Ultimately you want the best possible care for your loved-one. Allow them good quality care by taking the initiative to engage others in your caregiver duties. Reaching out will bring success to your burnout recovery and allow you to continue your caregiving journey. Did you find this post helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment. Feel free to share this post with anyone who could benefit from the information. Thank you for reading and stay well!
Whether you chose to be a caregiver or caregiving chose you, you’re now responsible for the well-being of another individual. Physical, mental, medical, and financial responsibilities are included in daily caregiving. One must assess both physical and mental states and address their effect on the patient’s health. Medications must be altered and administered per the request of the attending physician. Monthly bills and long-term finances must be managed in order to compile sufficient funds for care. These are just SOME of the daily responsibilities encountered by caregivers. The unpredictability of caring for an ailing loved-one causes a stress-filled environment. Combining ongoing responsibilities with unpredictable daily outcomes leads to caregiver stress and eventual burnout. How can you avoid this stress? Two words….RESPITE CARE.
Respite care is a short-term break for caregivers. It allows time to de-stress and recharge. You’re able to go shopping, take a nap, grab lunch, go on a mini vacation, or catch a movie at the local theatre. It’s easy to forget yourself when caring for a loved-one. Caregivers can’t become overwhelmed by their full-time duties. Respite care helps release any physical or mental tension that has accumulated while caregiving. These small breaks enable you to return refreshed and more focused.
It’s important to have a stable support system while caregiving. Ideally, respite care would be provided daily. However, finding willing relatives with similar schedules can be difficult. Finding a trustworthy homecare agency is equally difficult. Trying to coordinate family schedules and locating GOOD care is stressful. Caregivers become deterred and opt for no support system. I was this caregiver. Taking full responsibility for an ailing loved-one and refusing breaks is a recipe for disaster. You’ll become overwhelmed and eventually suffer from burnout. Learn from my mistakes.
Choosing to become a caregiver is a noble decision. But sometimes we don’t have a choice and caregiving chooses us. Whatever the circumstances, try to instate a reliable support system. Voice your opinions to your family and describe the importance of respite care. If you don’t mention it, who will? As a caregiver, we take complete responsibility for our patient and forget OUR daily needs. If trustworthy friends and relatives offer you a break, TAKE IT! De-stress and recharge so you can successfully care for your loved-one.
Let me know how your caregiving journey is progressing by leaving a comment. As always, thank you for reading and take care!