Are you caring for an elderly and beloved parent or grandparent? If so, you know that it can be hard work. Rewarding, yes, but physically and emotionally demanding.
Caregivers are at a high risk for burnout because of these physical and emotional demands. And the truth is that many people become caregivers after the age of fifty. That’s an age at which many people would like to start slowing down rather than picking up new responsibilities. In this article, we will be discussing tips on avoiding caregiver burnout. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Burnout, generally, is defined as emotional and physical exhaustion that is not temporary. A hallmark characteristic of burnout is a loss of compassion for the ones we care for.
In other words, one might begin the job of caregiving with a heart full of love for an aging parent and gratitude for being able to help a father or mother. Two or three years down the road, however, a caregiver’s attitude can change. She may see helping a parent as a thankless chore and feel more indifference than compassion.
This kind of burnout is dangerous because the caregiver with burnout is more likely to make mistakes that compromise the well-being of a beloved parent. Caregivers with burnout are also likely to neglect their own care.
Here are a few other signs of burnout:
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feelings of irritability, sadness, and helplessness can lead to depression or signal depression.
- Loss of appetite or overeating with concurrent changes in weight
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the caregiver recipient
Avoiding Caregiver Burnout: What can you do?
1. Hire In-Home Care Aides
Hiring in-home care can take a great deal of stress off a caregiver. Home care aides come to your parent’s house for as few or as many hours a week as you need. They can cope with the physically demanding work of bathing an elderly person, unloading groceries, laundry, house cleaning, and garbage out. They also provide companionship that so improves the lives of older people living alone.
2. Set Realistic Goals
It’s also important for caregivers to set realistic goals for how much they can do. It’s likely that, as a caregiver, you have to wear many hats. Perhaps you still have children living at home. Perhaps you have a demanding full-time job. Make a shortlist of only the things you are really able to do for Mom or Dad. And don’t try to do more than that.
3. Seek Support
Have someone with whom you can confide your concerns about your aging parents. This might need to be a therapist. Therapists will not judge any negative feelings you might have; instead, they give you coping mechanisms.
4. Educate Yourself
Take advantage of opportunities to learn about your parent’s conditions. Dementia, cancer, heart disease, and physical disability are common in old age. The more you know about the battles your parents are waging, the better you can get ahead of changes.
5. Remember to Smile
Try to find the humor. If you can still laugh with your parents, that’s a blessing. Finding the funny in every situation is one of the best therapies available.
In conclusion, caregiver burnout is a real thing! Adult children caring for parents with dementia or Parkinson’s disease are at very high risk for burnout. Avoiding caregiver burnout includes finding time for self-care, humor, and counseling as needed. And if you have not already hired in-home care, this would be a good time to consider it.