Providing care for a loved one in need is truly a rewarding pursuit. As the caregiver, you’re able to improve your loved one’s quality of life, make sure that he or she is provided the appropriate health care by an attentive health care team, and make tasks of daily living easier and more enjoyable. Your loved one might be able to participate in hobbies, socialize with friends, and genuinely enjoy their lives, all thanks to your caring, guiding attention.
But what about you? Caregiving can also be incredibly stressful and physically and emotionally taxing. However rewarding and fulfilling the pursuit might be, it can leave you feeling exhausted, anxious, or in a perpetual state of stress, especially if the health of your loved one continues to deteriorate or they become particularly challenging to work with. In fact, caregiver stress and caregiver burnout are very real and understood concerns that come with lending in-home support to a loved one, and health care providers are increasingly recognizing that the caregiver, as much as the care recipient, needs attention and support.
So how do you know if you’ve got caregiver stress? You might feel:
- Constantly anxious, depressed, or irritable,
- Tired or run-down,
- Increasingly resentful of your loved one or the person that you care for,
- Less interested in, or just less able to participate in your leisure activities,
- Unable to sleep well, or sleep enough,
- Or like YOU might be having new and recurring health concerns that weren’t present before.
Worse than caregiver stress is caregiver burnout: here, your body, mind, and emotions have been taxed to the brink, and literally can’t go on. You begin to shut down, which can look like:
- Your energy is utterly sapped,
- You’re perpetually susceptible to colds, flu, or just never feel well anymore,
- You don’t sleep well and the sleep you do get just doesn’t satisfy; you never feel rested,
- Your own needs are neglected, either due to a lack of time, or just total apathy,
- Caregiving no longer gives you any joy or satisfaction,
- You’re unable to relax, even when you do get assistance or some time to yourself,
- You feel helpless or hopeless,
- Or you’ve become increasingly irritable, resentful of, and angry with your loved one for whom you provide care.
Caregiver burnout is concerning: not only does it mean your mind and body have taken a significant toll, but it also means your loved one is now not truly benefitting from your assistance in the way that they could, because you’re not fully present, alert, energetic, or interested in being there for them. But don’t worry! There are solutions to help you resolve your caregiver stress or caregiver burnout.
First, it’s important to practice self-care. Take some time for yourself – a personal day or vacation if you’re able, and truly spend some time relaxing. Read a book, take a bubble bath, or take a long walk – you can even meditate: whatever might help you feel more relaxed and centered. When you’re ready, spend some time thinking back on caregiving, framed in a new light. Recognize and applaud yourself for the great work that you’re doing. Even if you’re loved one is unable to thank you, thank yourself. Reach out to other friends or family for the emotional boost that you need. There are also caregiver support groups that can help remind you of your value and importance and can talk with you about your struggles and challenges.
Finally, consider reaching out for some long-term assistance. Your efforts with your loved one have been invaluable and have truly changed their life for the better, but if caregiver burnout is a real problem for you then it might mean that the burden of care has gotten too great. At Ameribest Home Care, we understand how trying caregiving can be, and we’re here to help. Let us help you find a dedicated in-home health aide, skilled nurse, or other caregivers that can lift some of the burden off of your shoulders so that you can have more time to focus on yourself and your own care needs. Ameribest Home Care understands – providing the best care and support possible means caring for and supporting caregivers! We’re here to help you and your loved one live your best lives.