Caring for a loved one is one of the greatest privileges many of us will ever have. It also can be one of the hardest and most exhausting of tasks at times. While most family caregivers wouldn’t hesitate to say they’re glad to take on the job, that doesn’t mean they can’t use a little help sometimes.
Family caregiver burnout is real, and it happens to the most committed and loving people.
February 18th is National Caregivers Day, and the day marks a great opportunity to learn about some simple ways to cope with the stress that comes with a role so many of us take on. In fact, according to the AARP, about 53 million American adults provide unpaid care to other adults. Caregivers certainly are not alone as they take this on, but even the toughest people need to take time to relieve stress and prevent burnout.
Some caregiver burnout signs to watch out for include trouble sleeping, feeling overwhelmed, changes in weight, sadness, and substance abuse.
One big prevention of family caregiver burnout, so they can maintain balance in their lives, is to set personal health goals. These can be centered around:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Finding ways to be physically active most days of the week
- Setting a good sleep schedule
- Drinking plenty of water
A big factor in caregiver stress can be the feeling of isolation, especially if the at-home care situation feels especially intense. One way to fight this isolation is to maintain regular social support. That can be as simple as talking to a friend on the phone a couple times a week. Caregivers can also seek out a support group where they can learn problem-solving strategies for the hardest of situations.
Another important way to manage that stress is for caregivers to allow themselves to accept help. Maybe a friend or family member can step in to care for your loved one when you feel like you need a break. It is healthy for you to take time to do something you enjoy.
Another option is working with a quality healthcare at home agency to provide respite care for a few hours or a few days. This type of care can help you safely take a mental and physical break from your responsibilities at home. It’s good for your mental health to take time for yourself to do things like get a haircut, have a meal with friends, or get away for a few days.
The Mayo Clinic reports that about 60% of family caregivers also have jobs outside of the home. If you’re overwhelmed, it may be appropriate to take a break from that job for a little while. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, covered employees are often able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for relatives. Your company’s human resources department can help.
By taking care of yourself mentally and physically, you’ll be able to be a better, happier, and more engaged caregiver to your loved one at home.
Are you a family caregiver in need of help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org now to learn how we can alleviate some of your stress and provide your loved one with the highest quality of life.