Caring For The Caregiver

 

There are significant demands on the caregiver, that can be emotionally, physically and financially taxing, and the rewards for this role are often not tangible. You may lose your patience periodically or be torn between feelings of love, a sense of satisfaction about the care you are providing, and resentment because caregiving responsibilities tend to limit you.
Caregiver burnout is a reality that you must be cautious of.

Signs of burnout include:

  • persistent resentment and complaining of the caregiving role,
  • loss of interest in life,
  • lack of motivation and efficiency,
  • irritability,
  • inability to concentrate,
  • anger and/or increased frustration,
  • lack of sleep,
  • feelings of emptiness and sadness,
  • emotional exhaustion,
  • sense of being overwhelmed or burdened,
  • violent feelings,
  • seldom feeling appreciated,
  • never having time for pleasure,
  • feelings of guilt if you take time for yourself,
  • fantasizing about escape
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal symptoms, lethargy, cardiovascular problems and skin conditions.

These feelings should be a red flag that you need to pay more attention to your own care needs because burnout affects your health, motivation, attitude and mood.

In order to cope better:

  • Develop reasonable expectations that you may have of yourself and that your loved one may have of you.
  • Inform yourself about what to expect and have a plan in place for the long term care of your family. Bring in volunteers from organizations to assist you when needed and use community supports, such as CCAC, respite care, day programs and private caregivers.
  • Find support groups or journal your various emotions, and express these feelings to your family and the person you're providing care to.
  • Elicit very specific help from your family members, and if they cannot help physically with care, suggest they contribute financially.
  • Try to be efficient, for example you may use delivery services.
  • Exercise, even a little
  • Practise stress management techniques.
  • Include your loved one in their own care rather than taking over their tasks for them.
  • Prioritize caring for yourself. You can do this by carving out sacred time for you, where you can isolate and take time to check in. This is ideal for you to reassess your situation so that you may address problems as they arise.
  • It is often helpful to remember past difficult experiences that you handled well set the example for your current struggles.
  • Praise yourself for the care that you are providing and never diminish what you are doing.

 

Credit Valley Hospital