Getting Caregiver Burnout is Easier Than You Think
Many times when a family member becomes a caregiver, it is with very little notice. Suddenly a parent or a loved one is ill and you are tasked with organizing and facilitating care. Often, we become overwhelmed with the endless things that have to be done. If we aren’t careful we can get burned out and start to resent the person we are caring for. Below, I have listed 5 sure fire ways to get burned out while providing care.
When you take on the role of caregiver, you automatically think that if you do your absolute best, the condition will improve. That isn’t always the case. Some conditions won’t improve or will get worse before they get better. As a caregiver, you have to keep that in perspective. All illnesses are different. They affect people differently. Our role as caregivers requires us to provide comfort and compassion. Your metal state will suffer if you fail to set realistic expectations. It is natural to want your loved one to get better in a certain time frame, but what if they don’t? This is an important point to consider early in the process.
Confusing Your Roles
It can be difficult to separate your relationships. For example, I was a wife and then a caregiver. It is difficult to play both roles at once. I had the most trouble transitioning out of caregiver mode and back to wife. That is how my burnout occurred. I was also working as a professional caregiver as well. It was too much. In the beginning, it was difficult to know who I was supposed to be and when. It helped when my husband and I made a schedule for when he really needed my help. Any time outside of that, I could just be his wife. This would work a bit differently with children and parents. The key to mastering this is to have a conversation with the care receiver to see when they really need you the most.
Let me fix this one for you up front. You cannot control everything. There will always be something that will be beyond your control. One day it will be money, another day the insurance company will drop you from the plan, and the day after that the pharmacy will have a problem filling your prescriptions. Nothing will be completely perfect, but you can enjoy the moments when things are going right. Make time to enjoy those things. The care giving situation will provide you with enough stress, don’t add to it with wanting to control all situations. This journey is meant to bring you out as a better person on the other side, let it. Learning how to be flexible early on will benefit you greatly.
Demanding Too Much
It is possible to demand too much from yourself and others when you’re a caregiver. I wanted everything to be perfect. I put so much pressure on myself that it felt like an actual weight was lifted when I figured out what was going on. You don’t have to be the person that takes care of every errand or go to every appointment. If you are the main caregiver, let someone else do those things for you. It is essential that you have some downtime to align your thoughts or unwind.
Not Paying Attention
It’s easy to lose yourself in the whirlwind of care giving. When dealing with all of the situations that could come up, your well-being can easily fall by the wayside. It is important to keep track of your emotions. If you are unable to realistically gauge your emotions yourself, ask a friend if you’re acting differently. Someone who is close to you will know when you’re bothered or if things aren’t quite right. That is your cue to take time off to refresh yourself. You cannot give from a depleted supply. You must recharge and energize so you can be your best for the person who needs you.
My new course I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up: Caring for an Aging Parent was developed to deal with caregiver burnout. The course starts on July 1 and runs for 8 weeks. Click here to get more information and sign up.
Do you have any stories of burnout that you’d like to share? Tell me about them in the comments.