Know The Caregiver Burnout Symptoms
Very often, caregivers can find themselves accustomed to the routine stress, worry, and discomfort that comes with providing care for a loved one. And as a result, you may not know the warning signs of caregiver fatigue until it already starts affecting your health and ability to provide care.
Below, we explain some common symptoms of caregiver burnout. If you notice yourself experiencing these symptoms regularly, its an indication that it may be time to take some time for yourself.
Define Your Area Of Responsibility
You must always be aware of the things you are and are not responsible for. Furthermore, you must know what things you can control and what is out of your hands. No one can control other peoples feelings and you shouldnt feel guilty if someone is experiencing pain. On the other hand, you must always have control over your emotions and decide when is the right time to take a break. Otherwise, you will become a victim of caregiver burnout and this wont be any help to the person you are taking care of.
Resolve Conflicts on Time
Constant conflicts just increase caregiver stress. As a caregiver, you must know how to resolve them before it becomes too late. We already wrote about preventing and resolving caregiver conflicts here.
Worrying is one of the main reasons for caregiver stress. Learn to define the clear line between concern and stress. Concern means focusing on the things you can change. Dont waste your time and nerves on situations that you cannot use to make different. Accept certain things the way they are and focus on those you can improve.
As you can see, dealing with caregiver stress is not easy, and it takes time to learn how to cope with it. In this article, we covered only the basic methods, but we will pay more attention to this topic in the future.
What Can I Do To Prevent Or Relieve Caregiver Stress
Taking steps to relieve caregiver stress helps prevent health problems. Also, taking care of yourself helps you take better care of your loved one and enjoy the rewards of caregiving.
Here are some tips to help you prevent or manage caregiver stress:
If you work outside the home and are feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break from your job. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for relatives. Ask your human resources office about your options.
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Have A Healthy Dose Of Laughter
Did you know that laughter lightens your emotional load and actually causes physical changes in your body? Laughter enhances your oxygen intake, relieves mental stress and soothes physical tension. Try switching up the nightly news with a favorite comedians stand-up or a classic rom-com or call your funniest friend. And speaking of friends
A Caregivers Guide To Coping With Stress And Burnout
Most caregivers dont worry about their own health- theyre solely focused on the person for whom theyre caring. But those who provide care to an older or disabled loved one tend to live with high chronic stress and skimp on self-care factors that raise the risk for negative emotional and physical health outcomes.
Not surprisingly, caregivers report higher levels of psychological stress compared to non-caregivers, according to a 2019 report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The numbers are staggering: of study participants, 19% of caregivers had burnout and 22.6% were at risk of developing caregiver burnout syndrome. And the CDC has reported that 53% of caregivers experience a decline in their own health, making them more likely than the general public to have a chronic illness .
Caregivers tend to be a special personality type: big-hearted, sensitive, responsible, well-intentioned people who are motivated by and take a deep satisfaction in doing right by their loved one, says geriatric psychiatrist Ken Robbins of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But thats often to the exclusion of taking care of themselves. Adding to health risks: Most caregivers are at midlife or beyond themselves, ages when their own illness and physical challenges tend to surface.
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Ask Family And Friends For Help
Find others who can step in and give you a break. It can be hard to ask for help, but know that your good friends and family want you to be happy. Not only will it give you some time to relax, but those filling in will better understand both your needs and your care recipients needs. Make sure to express your gratitude: Its sometimes a good idea to compensate family or friends informally with things like gift cards, a bag of their favorite coffee, or a dessert to-go. When approaching potential helpers, be specific about whats required and get a solid commitment about the days and times theyre available to avoid uncomfortable arguments down the road.
Lack Of Professional Training
In many cases, caregivers havent received training and are caregiving in their free time.
Without support navigating the health system, understanding health conditions, and understanding what to expect, how to plan, what to ask doctors, how to respond to resistance to care and other common challenges, caregivers are at very high risk of burnout, which is harmful to themselves as well as their loved ones who need them, Fine explains.
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Signs Of Caregiver Burnout And How To Prevent It
Out of love, out of obligation, maybe out of a sense of just doing whats right, you might be one of more than 40 million adults in North America taking care of an elderly, chronically ill or disabled loved one, according to Pew Research Center.
In fact, 70 percent of family caretakers take care of one person over 65, while 22 percent help two people and 7 percent care for three or more people. Thirty-two percent of caregivers describe the experience as stressful.
Youre on the road to caregiver burnout. Its not taken lightly by psychologistswho define it as a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved stressand should not be taken lightly by you. By the time most caregivers suspect burnout, theyre already suffering myriad symptoms.
In addition to coping with a loved ones illness, they might also deal with financial pressures, changes in family dynamics and a general disruption in family life. Its a recipe for caregiver burnout that would negatively affect anyones ability to provide good care and potentially place the caregivers health at risk.
If you know what caregiver burnout is, you can protect yourself from burning the candle at both ends.
Cognitive Mobility Or Sensory Limitations
When an elderly person is dealing with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, or autism, incontinence is much more common due to the physical and mental limitations of those diseases. These and other cognitive, mobility, and sensory limitations can result in incontinent episodes due to inability to access a bathroom on their own, involuntary bodily movements, or confusion of their bodys needs.
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Ask For Caregiving Help
Taking on all of the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks or assistance is a surefire recipe for caregiver burnout. Dont try to do it all alone.
Look into respite care. Enlist friends and family who live near you to run errands, bring a hot meal, or watch the patient so you can take a well-deserved break. Volunteers or paid help can also provide in-home services, either occasionally or on a regular basis. Or you can explore out-of-home respite programs such as adult day care centers and nursing homes.
Speak up. Dont expect friends and family members to automatically know what you need or how youre feeling. Be up front about whats going on with you and the person that youre caring for. If you have concerns or thoughts about how to improve the situation, express them, even if youre unsure of how theyll be received. Start a dialogue.
Spread the responsibility. Try to get as many family members involved as possible. Even someone who lives far away can help. You may also want to divide up caregiving tasks. One person can take care of medical responsibilities, another with finances and bills, and another with groceries and errands, for example.
Set up a regular check-in. Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church or senior center to call you at a regular time . This person can help you spread status updates and coordinate with other family members.
Trying To Manage Overlapping Health Concerns
Caregivers often face numerous health issues at the same time.
Family caregivers are taking on complicated responsibilities. As people live longer, we generally have multiple overlapping challenges, says Claudia Fine, MPH, a licensed clinical social worker.
People are now less likely to die of a heart attack and more likely to live long enough to get dementia, glaucoma, diabetes, and arthritis all at once, says Fine, the chief professional officer at eFamilyCare, a digital platform that connects family caregivers to specialists.
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Helpful Strategies For Reducing Caregiver Stress
Health experts and caregiver community groups have created a wealth of resources to help people deal with caregiver stress. Here are some of the common strategies given by these sources:
There are many more tips and strategies available online for dealing with caregiver stress. You can also consult with health professionals like your doctor, and speak to professional caregivers who work in hospitals and nursing homes.
Breathing With Your Diaphragm Can Reduce Your Pain By 50%
Because the diaphragm produces about 70% of your breathing capacity and 99% of the population has dysfunctional breathing muscle patterns. This is a primary source of physical pain and emotional stress because the brain being starved for oxygen goes into a state of mild, moderate or severe anxiety or stress. Most of us do a lot of sittingThis will cause the secondary breathers to over work and strain to lift the rib cage and chest to inflate the lungs. This improper breathing pattern is known as Chest Breathing and is associated with neck and head pain.
However, with chest breathing only the upper half of the lungs will inflate with air Consequently, the shallow breathing performed by the secondary breathers of the neck muscles causes a mild state of hypoxia to the brain and body.
This results in the release of the stress hormones known as the C.A.N.E. group and lowers brain-body functionsAs the diaphragm is Calibrated it allows for easier breathing, more inflation of the lungs with less effort, a clearer mind and lower stress and hence relaxation. Head and neck pain usually lessen immediately.
The way you breathe matters. Your breathing can either trigger your stress response, or activate your relaxation response, and increase your lung capacity. My first forays into breathing techniques were game-changing for me.
Please see this page for 10 Breathing Techniques.
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Find New Ways To Manage Overwhelming Care Tasks
Make sure youre not trying to solve the problem alone. Brainstorm possible solutions with other family members, a social worker or geriatric care manager, doctors, and friends including virtual ones who may have experienced similar issues.
Be sure theres been a thorough physical exam to see if a problem, such as incontinence, is fixable. Adult diapers and toileting schedules, or a change in medications, may make incontinence more manageable, for example. Frequent falls and problems getting up are other physiological problems that may be treatable. For behavioral issues such as wandering, learn the basic ways to address the problem and see if they make a difference
Allow Yourself To Have A Social Life
You may be feeling isolated or upset that your old circle no longer seems to check up on you and how youre faring. But is it possible that youve turned them down so often because of your caregiving duties, or that caregiving concerns so dominate your life and conversation, that they may think youre just not interested in them? So when you do see them, dont just talk about caregiving. If every conversation concerns one subject, its a warning sign that the topic is monopolizing your life.
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Coping With Elderly Incontinence At Night
Many elderly incontinent patients particularly struggle with bladder and bowel control at nighttime. Some have accidents when sleeping, while others simply cannot get out of bed and make it to the bathroom in time, or arent physically able to get to the bathroom themselves. If this is the case, its essential to invest in the best nighttime incontinence products. Start with overnight protective underwear, which offer the highest levels of absorption . Adding boosters, which are designed to be used in tandem with protective underwear, can give you additional absorption and leak protection. You should also try bed protectors, which can be placed between a person and their sheets/mattress to offer additional waterproof protection and easier cleanup if leaks occur.
Dont Go Through Your Health Journey Alone
You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.
All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Dont spend another minute alone!
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Resources For Managing Caregiver Stress
The following resources may be able to help you manage your caregiving responsibilities and stress. Below, youll find caregiver support groups and online forums, ample online resources, and service and provider directories.
Caring.com is a leading online destination for caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. We offer thousands of original articles, helpful tools, advice from more than 50 leading experts, a community of caregivers, and a comprehensive directory of caregiving services.
Always Be Prepared For Accidents
Adjusting your expectations and assuming accidents will happen can help reframe your mindset on this area of caregiving. By expecting and being prepared for accidents, it will be easier to take them into stride and deal with them without it deeply impacting your day. If you have the supplies you need to clean up and change after an accident, you can more quickly and easily move on with your day.
This is especially important when leaving the house with someone dealing with incontinence. Be sure to pack a backpack or small tote bag filled with everything you need to clean up on-the-go, like spare bladder protection products, wipes, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
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How Not To Deal With Caregiver Stress
If youve been following my blog, youve likely noticed that Ive posted mainly guest reviews over the last week. I also didnt post on Friday, Saturday and Sunday which is highly unusual because Ive been publishing content every day. Faithful readers have probably guessed that momz finally had to go into the hospital and theyd be right.
Caregiver stress is very real. Before I developed the healthy, sustainable coping strategies that I want to share with you tomorrow, I first made mistakes.
Lest you think I finally have this stuff all figured out, let me tell you that I do not. Healthy coping strategies were not my go-to solution. Any and every stressor can trigger unhealthy habits and coping strategies. Developing healthier habits has been touch-and-go.
Caregiving Is Rewarding But Stressful
Caregiving can have many rewards, as Im sure you know. It certainly did for me when I was caring for my Mom. The experience is something I would not trade for anything.
But, this shift in roles can be difficult and emotional. Its natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone, or sad. Caregiver stress the emotional and physical stress of caregiving is common.
Whenever I found myself feeling angry or frustrated I would remember that I wasnt angry at my mother, I was angry at the situation she was in. That would focus me back to the compassion and love I had for her.
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Find A Support System
Speaking with people who know what youre going through can be comforting.
It can be really helpful to connect with other caregivers who are feeling similar to you, or other people who have overcome caregiver syndrome both so you can feel less alone and so you can get support and guidance, Soulé explains.
Though caregiving can be so exhausting that you dont feel like connecting with others, social isolation can make you feel worse.
Seek Professional Guidance And Support Groups
Many people choose to seek the help of a therapist or support group to manage their caregiver stress. That provides a safe, sympathetic, and constructive environment where caregivers can express their wants and needs, says Darren Sush, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. Support groups for caregivers, even highly tailored ones such as for Alzheimers caregivers or particularly for men, may also be available in your area, though most caregivers find it difficult to get out of the house for support groups in their limited free time. Ask at local hospitals, senior centers, places of worship, or the Alzheimers Association.
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