What You Can Do to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
You're less likely to burn out if you share caregiving tasks with other people, Austrom says. Check with your insurance company to see what services they may cover.
Ask friends and family to help. Some caregivers use online calendars so the people in their lives can easily sign up to handle tasks. The Alzheimer's Association offers a "care team calendar" on its web site. You can also use Facebook or other social media to organize your circle of family and friends.
Enroll your loved one in an adult day care program for people with Alzheimer's. He can visit with others while you take a few hours to run errands or relax.
Find other care for a few weeks. Your loved one may be able to stay for a week or two at a long-term care facility. That will give you a break. Austrom says she’s heard caregivers say these breaks helped them relax and feel more able to handle their loved ones’ needs.
Share some tasks with a home health aide. If you hire someone part time, she can drop in and help with some of the caregiving tasks.
Contact your local Agency on Aging. The agency can point you toward resources such as adult day care programs and home health services. You can find your agency's contact number through the web sites of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging or the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Connect With People Who Get It
Find a support group for caregivers in your area. When you go, you can talk to people who know what you’re going through because they’ve been there, too. From them, you may learn new ways to manage your stress and see how they handle their challenges, Austrom says.
You can also try an online support group. The Alzheimer's Association, for example, has one.
Protect Your Own Health
"Sometimes caregivers, in their zeal to care for their loved ones, will stop taking care of themselves," Austrom says.
But your loved one is counting on you -- and you count, too. Make a point to:
- Keep up with your own medical care.
- Exercise daily, even if it's just a 20-minute walk.
- Get enough sleep.
- Spend time with people you like.
- Consider talking with a counselor about what’s going on and how you’re doing.