Here are some signs of caregiver burnout:
Overreacting to minor frustrations
The constant feeling of exhaustion
Loss of interest in things you use to enjoy/ isolation from social gatherings
Decrease in productivity of work
Increased use of alcohol/stimulants
Change in eating or sleeping patterns
Feelings of resentment towards the person you are caring for
Being short-tempered with family members
If you see yourself in any of these points you need to make some drastic changes NOW before it becomes critical.
Some Self-Care Tips:
Support group.- Though it seems that you have no time to add another thing to your calendar it is important to make the time Group participants will understand how challenging the caregiving journey is and how hard it is, at times, to remain patient with the mental and physical decline of someone you love. As well as how frustrating it is trying to “navigate the health care system”.
Get an “on-call” friend – ask someone in your close circle of friends to act as a sounding board (sometimes just a venting board) so you can release the pent-up emotions without concern of judgment or criticism.
Journal/Blog – sometimes writing things down can help you express your emotions. Sharing your emotions via a blog can help others in realizing they are not alone in their struggles with their care journey.
Consider counseling – this can assist you in dealing with the natural feelings that come with caregiving. Among these are anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and guilt. Some feelings are part of the grieving process you and your care receiver are experiencing. Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t take time for counseling until their caregiving days are over. (If you are a working caregiver, counseling may be provided as part of your health insurance package so call your health insurance provider. Companies offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s), may also cover counseling. Caregivers age sixty or over may qualify for counseling under the Older Americans Act, Title III-B.)
Ask for help – if you have other family members in the area call and ask them to help you with the care needs. Then LET THEM DO IT! Let go of the need to control because it is part of the cause of your burnout.
Respite Care – If you care for someone in a home setting you can hire a caregiver to come to the home to manage their care for a week or two. Consider as well scheduling a respite stay at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.
Get a physical – Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a complete physical and KEEP IT. Though caregiver burnout feels more like an emotional issue, it can lead to serious health issues if left un-managed.
Get away – take a vacation, even if it’s just for a weekend or overnight stay somewhere away from your regular hectic schedule.
Find ways to take care of yourself TODAY! Putting it off will only continue the downward spiral which can lead to critical, life-altering decisions and behaviors.