How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Taking care of your loved one is rewarding, but you've got to watch for signs of burnout.

Warning signs include:

  • You find yourself withdrawing from your friends and family.
  • You lose interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • You feel blue, irritable, or hopeless.
  • You notice you're losing or gaining weight.
  • Your sleep patterns change.
  • You’re sick more often.
  • You want to hurt yourself or the person you're caring for.

What You Can Do

What You Can Do

Here are some steps to keep burnout at bay:

Find someone you trust. Talk to a friend, co-worker, or neighbor about your feelings and frustrations.

Set reasonable goals. Accept that you might need help from others.

Be realistic. Set reasonable expectations about your loved one's disease, especially conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, which get more severe as time goes on.

Set aside time for yourself. Even if it's just an hour or two, it's worth it. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It's a need.

Talk to a therapist, social worker, or clergy member. They're trained to give advice on a wide range of physical and emotional issues.

Use respite care services. They can give you a temporary break. The help can range from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

Know your limits. Do a reality check and don't push yourself too hard.

Educate yourself. The more you know about your loved one's condition, the better care you can give.

Play up the positive. Remember to lighten up when you can. Use humor to help deal with everyday stresses.

Stay healthy. Eat right and get plenty of exercise and sleep.

Accept your feelings. It's normal to have negative feelings such as frustration and anger. It doesn't mean you're a bad person or a bad caregiver.

Join a support group. Share your feelings and experiences with others in the same situation as you. It can help you manage stress, locate helpful resources, and stay connected with others.

Check these resources for some caregiving help. It can give you the time you need to recharge.

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Home health services. These agencies provide home health aides and nurses for short-term care if your loved one is seriously ill.

Adult day care. These programs give seniors a place to socialize, do activities, and get needed medical care.

Nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. These sometimes offer short-term stays to give caregivers a break.

Private care aides. These are professionals who help manage care and services.

Caregiver support services. These can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others facing similar issues, find more information, and locate additional resources.

Area agency on aging. It can help you find services in your area such as adult day care, caregiver support groups, and respite care.

National organizations. Search for local chapters that help people with conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and stroke. These groups can answer questions about respite care and support groups.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on February 08, 2017

Sources

SOURCES: 

American Heart Association.

Cleveland Clinic.

Family Caregiver Alliance.

Helpguide.org.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging.

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