Practical Solutions to Prevent and Improve Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a very real concern for so many, whether you are in a family caregiving role, or in a paid role.
The problem is that often burnout includes a sneaky surprise for so many in a caregiving role! You may feel overwhelmed by the practical needs of your family member or friend, and at the same time feel exhausted by your own emotional and physical needs.
You don’t have to turn to extremes like alcohol or drugs to cope; you can find amazing resources in your own backyard! The reality is there are so many resources available to friends and family to help caregivers feel supported: from respite care to support groups, to local area agencies and even adult day care.
You don’t have to live in a state of emotional exhaustion forever as you care for your loved one and a simple action to contact your local home care companies can help you feel good, while providing tangible ways to ease your stress.
Learn the signs of burnout, ways to find caregiver support, how to stay healthy while caring for the person you care about, and how to find an area agency to support you in your role as a caregiver.
Signs of Burnout to Avoid Caregiver Burnout & Exhaustion
Most adults have periods of stress and overwhelm, but many don’t fully recognize when they are experiencing a temporary season of frustration compared to true burnout.
That’s why it’s important to understand what caregiver burnout includes so you can protect your emotional and physical health, stay healthy, and ultimately care for your loved one well.
Here are a few of the top signs of burnout where you may be experiencing emotional exhaustion and caregiver burnout:
- Mood Swings
- Health Problems
- Increased dependency on alcohol or drugs
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Overwhelming and persistent exhaustion
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout. You owe it to yourself, your family and friends, and your loved one requiring care to take care of yourself. Therefore, recognizing that you need help and support from local resources or a local area agency is vital!
Learn more about Caregiver Fatigue.
Practical Resources for Caregiver Support
If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, there are so many resources for family caregiving as well as other resources through a local area agency, local support group, respite care, adult day care, and more!
There are so many resources for you, as a family member or friend caregiver, as well as so many resources that directly support your loved one.
Both types of support ultimately are a resource to you, as you carry the load of caregiving.
Support For Caregivers Directly
You may feel like you should be strong enough to handle the physical and emotional needs of your loved one, but the reality is that caregiving disrupts your own life in so many ways. Your own physical and emotional health are important to consider.
A few simple resources for caregivers:
- Friends and Family: Don’t be shy with your own friends and family. Share with them what you have on your plate and any tangible needs you may have at the moment. Most people would love to help if they know specific ways they can contribute. Remember, they can’t read your mind, so speaking up and sharing where you are at can be a great first step to easy your emotional exhaustion.
- Support Groups: Research and ask about local support groups. There are so many support groups that exist for specific conditions. For example, there are groups specifically for caregivers who have dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, physical injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. You can ask around with your loved one’s doctor, assisted living homes, senior resource centers, and even your local library. Local social media boards like Facebook Groups and Nextdoor can be a great place to crowdsource local options as well.
- Stay Healthy Yourself: Focus on exercise and healthy eating. Just as flight attendants teach us to put our own Oxygen masks on first before helping anyone else, you, as a caregiver, need to make sure you’re taking care of your own health so that you have something to give out to your loved one. An added bonus is that exercise itself can be a major stress reliever and can have very immediate benefits to help your day improve.
Practical Support for the Person You Care About
- Respite Care: Respite care provides short-term support and relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days or weeks. We encourage all of our caregivers to double-check with their insurance plans.
- Adult Day Care: Similar to childcare, adult day care options typically are available during traditional work hours. There are three common types of adult day care options: social day care, Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Day Care. Based on the needs of your loved one, you can choose the appropriate level of care, and you may even be eligible with Medicaid and Medicare to get benefits to help offset the costs of this service.
Intentional Ways to Help Caregivers Feel Healthy
Focusing on your own physical and emotional health is important. Here are a few siple things you can do to focus on your own self-care:
- Meditation: A few simple minutes to calm the mind each day can do wonders as you walk into unknown stressors and challenges.
- Counseling: Therapy can be a great resource for anyone in a caregiving role. You can be more self-aware of your exhaustion point and when you’ve hit burnout.
- Support Groups: Your mental and emotional health are paramount. Support groups are helpful to show you so clearly that you aren’t the only person walking through a hard situation with a loved one.
- Walk: If you can do no other exercise, go take a walk every day. Walks help clear the mind while helping your body keep strong.
- Exercise: Not only will the endorphins from exercising help your mood, but intentional exercising with weight and resistance work can be helpful in a caregiver role. Odds are, you will have to lift or move something or your loved one and building up strength helps ensure you don’t get injured.
How To Find an Area Agency Who Can Help
The first step is recognizing you need help to care for your loved one. After that, you may do some research and find a local area agency that can be a great resource to you.
Area agencies are helpful because they often have multiple levels of service within their same team. For example, you may start with respite care, but as conditions worsen you may find you need help with more health and medical needs or memory care.
If you’re working with a local area agency, you can easily change your needs and the local area agency has a pool of team members they can point you to right away.
Here are a few tips to finding an area agency who can help:
- Flexibility: Look for an area agency who has a wide variety of services offered and paid caregivers who can step into those roles easily.
- Reputation: Look for a company who has solid online reviews and even ask around in local online forums (Facebook Groups, Nextdoor, etc.)..
- Works With State Regulations: Did you know most states have programs where family members can get paid to take care of a loved one? Caregiver support programs in each state are designed to encourage supportive relationships with the care received. Look for an agency who is well-versed in your state’s requirements and is a licensed agency.
Caregiving is such an important role, but it’s often one most find themselves in suddenly and without much preparation. That’s why caregiver burnout is such a common issue and one that often sneaks up on most people.
Follow a few simple steps to help protect yourself from caregiver burnout, and instead enjoy the time you have with your loved one!