Let’s be honest here, caregiver burnout is a common problem among full-time caregivers. It has the potential of taking the best of days and ripping them to shreds, leaving the caregiver overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, exhaustion and depression. Trust me, it ain’t pretty.
While no caregiver is immune to burnout, this is especially true of the full-time caregiver, who is typically providing 24-hour care to a close family relative with little, if any, relief. Without proper preparation, burnout will strike, but there are ways to prevent burnout from occurring in the first place. Before falling prey to the stresses of caregiving, here are some of the tips that will help you to take care of yourself and your peace of mind.
1. You do not have to be a super hero.
First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to others. We’ve all met people who seem to be superhuman. They are hyper-organized, super-efficient, and they make us all feel inadequate. Forget about them, they are not you. You and your situation are unique and no other person alive knows what you have to do each and every day of your life. So, don’t think about your inadequacies. You don’t have to be superhuman to be an awesome caregiver. You only have to be willing to provide loving care to someone who needs it.
2. Take time for yourself.
When is the last time you did something just for you? Are you guilty of suppressing your own needs so much that you have lost touch with your own interests, hopes and dreams? This is detrimental to your peace of mind and your ability to be the best caregiver you can be. Love on yourself. Take care of yourself. Pursue your own interests. Take up a hobby. Have a cup of tea, work in the garden, read a book, take a bubble bath, spend time alone, or call a friend. Whatever you do, do it just because you want to do it. You can thank me later.
3. Use community resources.
Your local community is rich with resources that will help you and the one you are caring for to lead fulfilling lives. It may take some digging but you can uncover groups, teams, and organizations created to help you both thrive at this thing called life. There are educational resources that teach you how to become more efficient at home and at work. There are bowling leagues designed especially for the disabled, and there are resources to help you meet some of the financial burden often associated with full-time care of someone with extensive medical needs. Get online, get out the phone book, and begin your search. Ask and you shall receive.
4. Find support.
You need support. You need to hear that you are not in this alone. You need to hear stories from seasoned caregivers who can offer you tips on how to manage your time efficiently and keep your home organized while you provide full time caregiving duties. You need to connect with other caregivers who know what you are going through. Join a local support group, follow encouraging blogs, or become part of a web based network. Whatever you do, link up with like-minded caregivers so that you can support one another along the long and often uncertain journey called life.
5. Get some respite.
Ahhh….rest. You will need it. While you may feel you can do it all on your own, in order to remain as capable tomorrow as you are today, you will need rest. Respite from your duties will help you to recharge and be the best caregiver you can be. This is where homemaker/companion companies can be of service to you. As a full time caregiver to my sons with disabilities, I know the fear and uncertainty of leaving them with a stranger but as a long time employee of a homemaker/companion company, I know that there are caregivers that will go above and beyond the call of duty to provide excellent care to their clients. This is the type of company you need to seek out for your loved one. Do not overlook this last and most important step to preventing caregiver burnout and get some rest.
Remember, it is important to give yourself what you need to be happy so that you can be the best caregiver that you can be.