Are you giving yourself caregiver burnout?
Caregiving can make you feel physically and mentally exhausted, guilty, resentful, stressed, fatigued, irritable, overwhelmed, depressed, hopeless, and, well, burnt out.
If you let it.
That’s because caregiving can be like emotional tunnel vision, where focus on the parent or family member you’re caring for crowds out your life as a spouse, lover, parent, friend, and working professional.
But it doesn’t have to – especially if you follow these steps:
· Don’t try to be Atlas. You can’t carry the whole world on your shoulders, so don’t try. At the very least, find someone you trust to talk about and vent your feelings and frustrations. Better yet, ask other family members to help, and accept help from well-meaning friends who offer it.
· Step back and analyze your tasks – both for caregiving and for your “regular” life. Make a list of what others can do to help, even if it’s things like picking up something from the supermarket, picking up medications, taking your son to get a tuxedo for the prom, or stopping by for a cup of coffee and a taste of the outside world. That way, if friends call to ask how they can help, you’ll have a concrete, actionable answer. And one less thing to worry about.
· Realize you’re not a miracle worker. Hard as you try, there’s only so much you can do. This is particularly true if the person you’re caring for has a progressive disease like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or terminal cancer. Don’t guilt yourself because all your heartfelt efforts can’t cure it. Instead, concentrate on how everything you’re doing can help him or her feel better.
· Take care of yourself, too. For your mental and emotional health, give yourself an hour or two of “normal” life. And for your physical health, make sure to eat right and get plenty of exercise and sleep.
· Look into outside help. A good first step is contacting us for a thorough three-part needs assessment. This covers not only your care recipient’s physical, emotional, and social needs, but yours and your family’s as well. At the very least, this can lead to a better insight into what you need to do and how to better organize how and when you do it. Or it can lead to a custom-designed, coordinated care plan that can lift part or all of the caregiving burden from your shoulders. Either way, you’ll end up better equipped to take better care of yourself while continuing to care for your loved one.