As members of our family age, it can be tempting to take on caring for them alone. But you must be careful to avoid caregiver burnout. 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: caregiver burnout. Here are five important tips to avoid burnout in your family.
#1: Help Your Loved One Help Themselves
Most people want to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as they can. Do whatever you can to make it possible for them to retain this independence. This will also help relieve the reliance on you, the caregiver, to avoid burnout.
Consider adding in a shower seat, or a tub with easy access. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and bedroom can help them stay safer on their own, without the need to intrude a private space. And placing items in easy-to-reach places around the house can help keep day-to-day tasks manageable. There are even innovative utensils that are designed to help with kitchen tasks like opening bottles. And there is specialty seating available to help mobility-disabled individuals sit at the table easier.
#2: 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 once in a while.
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.
#3: Take Care of Your Own Health
Take the time to eat healthy, exercise, relax, and enjoy your life too. These things, while they seem small, are the keys to avoiding caregiver 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.
#4: Remember to Have Thick Skin
When people are struggling with dementia or other mental illnesses, they can get angry or say hurtful things. Try to remember the person they were before they were struggling. It’s difficult, but try not to take these comments to heart. Always remind yourself that this is their illness talking, not them.
#5: 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. Caregiver burnout is a well-recognized problem, so you should be able to find supports specifically for 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.