As a caregiver, you’ve more than likely heard: ‘take care of yourself’, ‘your health is important to your loved one’, and other thoughtful words along that line. The problem is, many shrug it off thinking, ‘I don’t have the time to take care of myself’. The truth is, it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are five steps to help you avoid caregiver burnout.
In a previous article, we talked about November being National Caregivers Month. At Caregivers Connection, we want to provide some tips to help you keep in good shape as you provide for your family member or friend.
First, here are some signs you may be suffering from caregiver burnout:
- Weight Gain and related health problems
- Inability to sleep well
- Compromised immune system i.e., run down, catching a cold, etc.
While none of these mean you absolutely are getting burned out, they can be indicators. The good news is, there are ways to avoid them.
Take breaks. No caregiver can go it alone for long. Check with your local area on Aging about adult day programs in your area. Hire someone that can come in for even a few hours a week. You may even get creative. Some caregivers have set up co-op programs – you watch my dad on Tuesday afternoon, and I’ll watch yours on Thursday.
Depend on others. Often, family caregivers make the mistake of feeling like they need to do everything. Look into local services that can free you up a bit. Such as programs that provide meals and transportation. Many of these types of services are free, or offered at low cost. Bring other family members into the loop. They truly may not realize that you need a break, and would be glad to lend you a hand.
Adopt a problem-solving approach. Sometimes it’s important to attack the daily routine in a task-focused way. It’s reported that male caregivers suffer from caregiver burnout less than women. It’s a simple fact that men approach situations in a problem-solving manner, instead of focusing on relationships and feelings.
Listen when your body talks. Pain or illness in your body is like a warning light on your cars dashboard. If you ignore the “E” on the gas gauge, you’ll find yourself stuck on the side of the road. Your body is no different. Pay attention to what your body is saying to you, because it is true, your health IS important to your loved one. If you get sick, they will suffer also.
Schedule yourself in. This may be the most important tip. Make and keep your own appointments. Make sure you have a trusted friend on whom you can rely to simply talk. You need that emotional outlet. When you have some down time during the day, do something that you like. Reading, knitting, and even get a little exercise will help you to feel better about yourself.
Your loved one depends on you. These five tips to avoid caregiver burnout will keep you focused, motivated and healthier.