Caregiver Burnout is Real
Are you feeling stressed with caregiver burnout? Have you considered alternatives such as hiring a caregiver or asking for help from other family members? When we discuss caregiver burnout symptoms, many negative thoughts and feelings may come to mind. There may be an instant rush of anxiety, slight depression, and the feeling of hopelessness. Regardless, you refuse to give up and that is why you are looking for options to refresh and continue on.
In 1990 my grandmother suffered a severe stroke. At the time, the doctors believed she would not live past 3 years. Here we are nearly 32 years later, post COVID-19 pandemic and she is still enjoying life to her best ability at 88 years old. Although this is quite a blessing, I cannot negate the significant stress this has placed on my grandfather. For nearly 32 years, my grandmother has relied on my grandfather to be her sole caregiver and assist her with activities of daily living. So, what is the trick? How has my grandfather continued to enjoy his life, essentially having a full time job as a caregiver? How do you remain positive and what resources are out there to offset the responsibilities. Let’s take a look at my top 5 recommendations for establishing a healthy balance between “caregiver” and “significant other”.
1. Avoid Caregiver Burnout, Ask for Help From Family Members
There is no secret that in most families, there is one individual who takes charge. My father is considered the “alpha male” and “leader.” Therefore, after my grandmother suffered her stroke, my father helped my grandfather with his new set of responsibilities. To offset my grandfather’s costs and responsibilities as a caregiver, my father invited them to live in our household full-time. This simple gesture allowed my grandfather to focus on the new set of challenges to be faced, while not having to stress about household items, chores and upkeep.
I understand most families will not be able to simply pack up and move their parents into their own home. However, having honest and open discussions with family members is a great start. You should lay it all out and have an agreement between the family that everyone will do their best to pitch in.
2. Hire a Caregiver Before Burnout
As a grandson of a disabled grandmother, I can’t stress the importance of relying on additional help from outside resources. If you are the sole provider for your loved one and they rely heavily on you with assistance for bathing, grooming and mobility needs, you need a break! There are several caregiving agencies that provide trained and qualified caregivers to families in need.
Recognizing the stress factors and wanting to provide a steady solution for quality care, Heroes Caregiving was formed. Our main goal is to provide families with quality care that is affordable and trustworthy. Allowing a “stranger” into your home to take care of your loved one can seem very uncomfortable. Therefore, it is vital you choose a caregiving agency that takes the extra time to hire qualified employees. At Heroes Caregiving, we utilize a third party vendor to assist with identifying, hiring and retaining top quality caregivers. This provides our agency a non-biased approach to evaluating potential employees.
To learn more about personal care, transitional care and respite care, simply click here!
3. Respite Care; Hire a Caregiver Part-Time
Alright, so now you have found yourself questioning your family members commitment, as they aren’t contributing as much as you’d like them to do. You also can’t see yourself hiring a full-time caregiver, as you feel this would be hypocritical, and “giving up” on your loved one. If this sounds like you, it’s time to consider respite care.
The best way to think of respite care is “substitute teacher.” A substitute teacher fills in for the permanent teacher to allow for breaks, vacations, and times when the teacher is sick. When you elect to hire a caregiver for respect care, often times allow you to hire a caregiver to give you “a break”. Respite care is offered by most agencies, providing the primary caregiver with a well-deserved break.
4. Take a Vacation, Hire a Caregiver
Now that we focused on the resources/programs available to offset the burden of being a caregiver, let’s focus on some “you time.” This philosophy is old as the books, you must care for yourself before you care for others. This corresponds with the safety briefs we all receive before our flight departs for our destination. In the event of an emergency, you are instructed to place your mask over your face before helping others. Essentially the same concept can be applied when taking care of your loved ones.
Once you become a full time caregiver, your freedom of being able to vacation and leave at anytime becomes limited. Therefore, I suggest two options; 1. Hire a caregiver and take a nice vacation by yourself or with friends, 2. Hire a caregiver to accompany you on your trip. I can say our family has exercised both options, and both have been extremely satisfying. Personal care agencies will do their best to accommodate your needs for travel and last minute plans.
5. Start Early. Recognize Caregiver Burnout Symptoms
We have covered some simple strategies to prevent and mitigate caregiver burnout symptoms. But what if you actually started early with this process? What if you had a plan ahead of time and were completely equipped with the proper tools and resources to prevent caregiver burnout? For #5, I would like to challenge you to have a plan and put it into action now! Don’t wait and allow the negative emotions of providing care for your loved ones supersede all the good times shared.
Just like retirement, you must have a plan to address your health concerns and needs before it’s too late. These resources are readily available and will provide you with great insight on planning for the future. After reading this article, I hope you yourself with the confidence to continue the challenge of being a caregiver. Should you find yourself experiencing caregiver burnout symptoms, please feel free to contact us directly.