5 Caregiver Burnout Prevention Tips
Caregivers spend a lot of their time caring for someone other than themselves, many times an older friend or relative.
If you have a family member or friend that is over 65 and needs help with daily tasks or is living with dementia, it’s easy to recognize how important you are to their well-being. If you are not there, they may forget to take their medications, cannot bathe themselves or may be at risk of falling and hurting themselves.
In other cases, your family member relies on you throughout the day, every day. Caregiving is demanding, rewarding work, but the responsibilities can also be stressful and overwhelming, putting caregivers at risk of physical or mental strain.
Caregiver burnout is a real concern for many individuals. If you’re caring for a family member or friend and are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you may be at risk of burning out. This article will provide practical ways you can create a more sustainable situation and prevent burnout. If you’re a close family member or friend to a caregiver, you can use this article to better understand the stress they’re under and share this article with them to help them take steps to relieve that stress in a healthy way.
Understanding the Demands on Caregivers
Many caregivers support mature adults who want or need to stay at home as long as they can. These adults, typically over 65 years old, often rely on their family members to help support them as they do so. One study found that an estimated 40 million family caregivers are present in the U.S., working 37 billion hours of time unpaid to meet their family member or friend’s needs. Of these, 85 percent of them do not receive any type of respite care support, a type of care that fills in for them when they cannot be there. Here are a few other statistics to consider from this:
- 50% of caregivers struggle to balance their personal life and finances outside of providing care
- Most provide care services for about five years
- Many caregivers say they have put careers on hold or not engaged in activities they desire to be there for their family members
Another study, this one published by the National Institute of Health, notes that 40 percent of people providing caregiving services suffer from depression.
Self-care for caregivers is vital, but if you are like many others, you are just not getting the level of care you need.
What Can You Do as a Dementia Caregiver?
If you provide any type of senior care, especially if you are providing dementia care for someone with Alzheimer’s or a similar disease, you should consider taking active steps to prevent caregiver burnout.
1. Don’t Do It Alone
Perhaps the most important tactic for preventing burnout is to realize that you should not and do not need to do everything on your own. There is a point where you need to reach out to other family members and friends to support you. Recognizing this allows you to be the best caregiver possible because you’ll be taking care of yourself as well. The healthier and happier you are, the more you’ll have to give to your friend or family member.
You can also reach out to professionals for support. Memory care services are available from communities that can provide a full-time living environment, as is respite care that provides a temporary break for caregivers. Many of these services are at least partly covered by insurance policies as well.
2. Find Activities You Enjoy
Finding time away from caregiving is important. When you get these breaks, even if they are for short periods, do something you really enjoy doing. That will help you spend your time doing something that brings you joy so you can more fully disconnect from the stress of caregiving, replenishing you so you can continue to provide quality care later.
3. Talk to People
Talk about the frustrations and the worries you have. Whether you talk to a partner, a friend or a professional, talking about how you feel and the stress you have can help you release pent up emotions. Anyone who cares for you and is available to listen can be a great outlet for you to talk to, but it may also help to find someone out there who has been there and gone through everything that you are facing. This opens the door for new opportunities, not just to discuss your situation but also to find solutions to concerns that you are having.
4. Look for Social Support Groups Online
Even if you are unable to leave home often, there are caregiver groups online that can help you. Look for groups of people going through what you are on Facebook or dedicated online communities. Seek out websites that can help support your needs and thoughts. Engage in blogs that are based on the struggles you are having. These resources can help you connect with others in your situation so you can share ideas and solutions to problems. These communities also provide an opportunity to share the many powerful, rewarding moments that come with caring for someone you love.
5. Take Care of Your Physical Needs
If you are not sleeping well, eating right or getting enough exercise, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming more stressed and even becoming ill. If you catch a cold or start feeling poorly regularly, you may need to take some time off to recharge and get your own health back on track. You will only be able to care for a relative or friend well if you are also in good shape, so don’t put off taking care of yourself because you don’t have time.
How to Find the Help You Need When You Need a Break
It may sound easy enough to do these things if you had the time – but you don’t. Most caregivers struggle to find time for themselves, but it is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your health and to prevent burnout. You need to carve out time for your needs, even if that means reaching out for help.
Respite care is one of the options available to families with those who need part- or full-time care. Respite care provides professional support services that can fill in for you on a temporary basis, giving you the ability to do what you need to remain happy and healthy. Respite care is flexible enough to provide for all of your needs, whether you need a few hours of help for a day or you need several weeks of support for a well-deserved vacation. You customize the care you need.
There Is Help for You as a Caregiver
Caregivers provide essential support, but it’s crucial for caregivers and the people who surround them to recognize that every person has limits. Consider getting help or professional support if you feel overwhelmed, especially if your friend or relative’s needs are increasing, they’ve engaged in harmful behavior to you or themselves or they spend more time wandering.
Whether you need short-term or ongoing care for a family member, Homestead at Hamilton provides the solutions you need. We provide memory care, assisted living services and dementia care for those who need long-term support. Contact us to learn more about what we can do to protect you.