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Heart Disease and Caregiver Burnout

How Can I Prevent Caregiver Burnout?

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent caregiver burnout:

  • Find someone you trust -- such as a friend, co-worker, or neighbor -- to talk to about your feelings and frustrations.
  • Set realistic goals, accept that you may need help with caregiving, and turn to others for help with some tasks.
  • Be realistic about your loved one's disease, especially if it is a progressive disease such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
  • Don't forget about yourself because you're too busy caring for someone else. Set aside time for yourself, even if it's just an hour or two. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity for caregivers.
  • Talk to a professional. Most therapists, social workers, and clergy members are trained to counsel individuals dealing with a wide range of physical and emotional issues.
  • Take advantage of respite care services. Respite care provides a temporary break for caregivers. This 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 and do a "reality-check" of your personal situation. Recognize and accept your potential for caregiver burnout.
  • Educate yourself. The more you know about the illness, the more effective you will be in caring for the person with the illness.
  • Develop new tools for coping. Remember to lighten up and accentuate the positive. Use humor to help deal with everyday stresses.
  • Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep.
  • Accept your feelings. Having negative feelings -- such as frustration or anger -- about your responsibilities or the person for whom you are caring is normal. It does not mean you are a bad person or a bad caregiver.
  • Join a caregiver support group. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others in the same situation can help you manage stress, locate helpful resources, and reduce feelings of frustration and isolation.

Where Can I Turn for Help With Caregiver Burnout?

If you are a caregiver already suffering from stress and depression, seek medical attention. Stress and depression are treatable disorders. If you want to prevent burnout, consider turning to the following resources for help with your caregiving:

  • Home health services: These agencies provide home health aids and nurses for short-term care if your loved one is acutely ill. Some agencies provide short-term respite care as well.
  • Adult day care: These programs offer a place for seniors to socialize, engage in a variety of activities, and receive needed medical care and other services.
  • Nursing homes or assisted living facilities: These institutions sometimes offer short-term respite stays to provide caregivers a break from their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Private care aides: These are professionals who specialize in assessing current needs and coordinating care and services.
  • Caregiver support services: These include support groups and other programs that can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others coping with similar issues, find more information, and locate additional resources.
  • Agency on Aging: Contact your local Agency on Aging or your local chapter of the AARP for services available in your area such as adult day care services, caregiver support groups, and respite care.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on May 12, 2012
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