When you are responsible for either the full-time or part-time care of another individual, your focus shifts away from yourself and it is easy to find yourself suffering from burnout. After all, most senior caregivers also have families and jobs of their own, as well as other responsibilities. When all of these factors are combined, the weight of it all can become too much. However, very few caregivers are in a position where they can step back from what they offer, and so it is important to find ways to cope and reduce the likelihood of caregiver burnout.
- Create some “you” time – once a week, carve out a couple of hours that are just for you. It should be something that you engage in because you enjoy it. You may choose a relaxing day at the spa, to participate in an organized sport or activity, or you might simply choose to get out and go for a walk. Don’t feel guilty for taking this time; you are in a better position to provide care to others if you take care of yourself too.
- Focus on your health – eating proper meals, remaining hydrated and getting a good night’s sleep can easily fall to the bottom of your priority list. Make sure that each and every day; you put your health first. When you are healthy and your energy levels are maintained, you are less likely to suffer from burnout and exhaustion. You are also in a better position to cope with stress.
- Get support – being a caregiver is a tough job, with many physical and emotional pressures. Family and friends who do not find themselves in a similar role may not understand what you’re experiencing. If that is the case try to find a caregiver support group. Others that have had similar experiences will understand, and are in a better position to offer the emotional support that you need. They can also provide you with additional suggestions for navigating different aspects of caregiving.
- Get someone else to step in – even when you are the primary caregiver, it is okay to recognize that you just can’t do it all alone. Ask someone else to step in to take some small responsibilities off of your shoulders. Rather than cooking a meal for your loved one nightly, you can use a meal delivery service, or see if a family member can swing by with extra food that they have prepared. There are caregiving services available that can help you with many tasks, so you can step back, and reduce the likelihood of suffering from caregiver burnout.
As a caregiver, you may have the instinct to go above and beyond to provide for everyone else. But in the long run, if you also focus on self-care, you will be a greater benefit to those that you care for.