When a loved one is ill or unable to independently care for themselves, it is natural to want to care for them. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about 1 in 3 Americans are caregivers. It can be emotionally rewarding to give of your time to help others do what they cannot do for themselves. However, despite the positives, caring for another person can be a full-time job that can take a toll on the caregiver. Most caregivers also have other jobs and spend an average of 24 hours a week caring for a loved one, according to the HHS. After spending some time as a personal caregiver, it is not uncommon for people to experience caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is a condition caused by stress that impacts the mental and physical well-being of a caregiver. It can be a harmful condition that may affect the lives of both the caregiver and the person for whom they are caring.
When you are responsible for caring for another person, it can be difficult to take care of your own health. According to the HHS, caregivers are more at risk for colds and flu. At times, a caregiver’s health may have to be put to the side, which can lead to greater problems. Caregivers are also more likely to have long-term or chronic health problems such as diabetes or arthritis. In addition to not paying enough attention to their physical health, a caregiver may not focus enough on their mental and emotional well-being. They may ignore when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. This could lead to the more serious problem of becoming burned out. If a person is feeling one or more of the following signs, burnout could be the culprit.
Signs of burnout
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Feeling tired and run down
- Difficulty sleeping
- Overreacting to minor problems
- New or worsening health issues
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling resentful
- Drinking, smoking or eating more
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Cutting back on leisure activities
What can help?
To fight against burnout, caregivers must make their own well-being a priority. They must commit to a lifestyle that protects and strengthens their physical and mental health. They can start with small changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Even taking 10 to 30 minutes out of the day for exercise such as a walk can be beneficial. Caregivers should also take time out to manage their stress and learn coping techniques, such as deep breathing, doing enjoyable activities and speaking with a friend. Caregivers should also make use of their support network or local services. For example, they could ask a friend to visit with their loved one while they run errands or have some time to themselves. One option caregivers can also consider is respite care for their loved one. This is a short-term stay in a nursing facility that can be beneficial to the caregiver and their loved one. The caregiver will have the peace of mind of leaving their loved one in the hands of caring, trained professionals. Their loved one will get 24-hour medical care and the added benefit of a new social environment with diverse activities.
When you need the support of short-term care for a loved one, you can depend on our respite care program to provide the skilled help you need. Individual person-centered care planning is at the heart of our program. To learn more, contact us today at www.CapitolHillCares.com.