The challenging role of caregiving a loved one can take a toll on you quicker than you can imagine. Whether you care for your loved one from afar, in their home, in your own home, or in a facility, there are many issues that will always way heavily upon yourself. Recognizing these issues and choosing solutions that will help you first, is of the utmost importance.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout.
- Are you confused?
- Is it difficult for you to weigh important decisions?
- Do you feel as if other family members are not pulling their load?
- Do you have unrealistic hopes?
- Do you have difficulty in setting boundaries and saying no?
- Is your position at work suffering because of your concerns for your loved one?
- Do you find yourself wishing that you could do more than you are doing?
- Do you find yourself more tired than normal?
- Do you get a full night's sleep?
- Do you have restless sleeps?
- Do you have difficulty falling asleep because you are so worried?
- Do you find yourself frequently thinking that you cannot go on feeling the exhaustion you experience?
- Are you nervous? Are you drinking? Smoking? Abusing drugs?
- Are you feeling abnormal physical symptoms from the stress you are undergoing?
Appetite Loss Or Overeating-
- Are you eating properly?
- Do you eat foods in balance?
- Are you eating enough food?
- Are you eating junk foods?
- Do you skip meals?
- Are you feeling trapped or burdened?
- Are you mad at the one you care for and do you take it out on them?
- Do you receive little satisfaction as a caregiver?
- Are you feeling depressed, sad, not optimistic, not able to laugh?
- Do you have feelings of guilt because you cannot care for your parents as they did you?
- Do you feel shame? Inadequacy? Hopelessness? Helplessness?
- Are you seeking out assistance and support for your loved one as well as yourself?
- Are you socializing, going out with friends, to a movie and having some fun as well?
- Are you keeping your fears and emotions inside yourself?
- Do you still phone your friends?
- Are you irritable? Volatile? Crying more than usual?
- Do you feel like a time bomb waiting to explode?
- Are you sensitive to what others say to you?
- Are you feeling as if you don't know what to do first?
- Do you feel as if you are out of control?
- Do you think about not being in control?
- Are you depleting your own financial resources?
- Do you feel like you will never be able to catch up on chores, etc?
- Do you wake up wondering how you are going to make it through the day?
Lack Of Interest In Your Appearance-
- Are you suffering from weight loss or weight gain?
- Are you nurturing yourself? Exercising?
- Taking care of your physical appearance?
If you are experiencing any of these signs, you may be at a risk for burnout. It is up to you to take control for yourself and do what is necessary to remain in balance.
Ways you can help yourself to avoid burnout.
- It is extremely important for you to evaluate and know just how much to give, especially if you can help your loved one to remain more independent.
- Keep your loved one involved in the decision making processes if they are able to participate.
- Open discussions for your loved ones to solve their problems but don't take on the role of solving them if they are able to.
- Do not assume control or responsibility if it is not necessary.
- Accept the what is. Do not try to change what you cannot.
- Do not let yourself move into denial.
- Seek help and support from others.
- Learn about your loved one's legal and financial matters. Check with their professionals to make sure things are in order.
- Make sure you have one or more friends or outlets for support to be able to express your real feelings.
- Know that there is no right or wrong way to caregive. It is okay if you do not have all the answers.
- Make sure you do not deplete your own financial resources.
- Eat regular, healthy, balanced meals. You need fuel for your body to combat the stress, the physical and emotional changes you go through and much more.
- Exercise regularly. Feeling invigorating and doing something for yourself, gives you confidence as well.
- Create a way to let laughter in on a daily basis. Find humor in your caregiving situation in some way.
- Call friends and reach out for support.
- Create leisure time for you to bathe, read a good book, watch a movie, write in a journal, or visit a friend. When you have joy and relaxation in your life, it is easier to tolerate the constant pressure of caregiving.
- Consult your doctor or therapist if you are having difficulty sleeping. See if you can meditate or breathe deeply before closing your eyes. Relax your entire body. Stop worrying...count your blessings and reflect on five things that happened to you during the day that you are grateful for. If you cannot sleep through these methods, you may need to try herbs or some form of medication to help you get a full night's rest.
- Find others offline or online who can relate to your experiences as a caregiver so that you know you are not alone.
- If you cannot get a grip on yourself, you must seek out professional help. A doctor, social worker, or a therapist can help you to recognize what you can do to change your situation and help you to adjust to your role so that you can meet the challenges with a clear mind, with strength, confidence and an open heart.
Caregiving will teach you many lessons. One of the most important one we learn is to live our own lives more fully.