As members of our family age, it can be tempting to take on caring for them alone. We all want what is best for our families, which is why many become caregivers with no questions asked. While it’s amazing to see the support of families, taking on too much can lead to a common problem known as caregiver burnout. Here are 5 important tips to avoid burnout in your family.
Help your loved one help themselves.
Most people want to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible. Do whatever you can to make it possible for them to retain this independence. Consider adding in a shower seat, or a tub with easy access. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and bedroom can help them keep control of the simplest and most intimate tasks, and placing items in easy to reach places around the house can help keep day to day tasks manageable. There are even new utensil designs that are designed to help with kitchen tasks like opening bottles.
Ask friends, family, and neighbours for help.
Many caregivers feel alone and the task can seem insurmountable, but chances are, there is a long line of friends and family who are willing to help. When help is offered, accept it, and be willing ask for help when you need it. Explain what needs to be done for the loved one by creating a simple list or having a quick chat and then take some time for yourself. As long as your loved one’s needs are being met that is the most important thing.
Take care of yourself.
Take the time to eat healthy, exercise, relax, and enjoy your life too. These things, while they seem small, are the keys to avoiding burnout. In most communities, there are respite programs that can help with short-term care as well. Depression is another common sign of burnout so keep your mental health in check and see your doctor or talk to someone else if you start feeling overwhelmed.
Remember to have a thick skin.
When people are struggling with dementia or other mental/emotional problems they can get angry and/or say hurtful things. Try to remember the person they were before they were struggling and try not to take these comments to heart. Always remind yourself this is their struggles talking, not them.
Talk to someone.
Talking to others who have experienced the role of a family caregiver can make a huge difference in your situation as well. Consider seeking out a new friendship or joining a support group with someone who truly understands your situation.
Our hats are off to all of you who are taking care of loved ones when they need your help the most. It takes a special kind of person with a huge heart, compassion, and patience to support your loved ones as they grow to need you.
“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” -Mother Theresa