Putting in the time in order to make sure that our loved ones are taken care of is a heartfelt task, but at the same time can be a daunting nightmare. Imagine being a parent, sibling, or even a spouse trying to keep your own life in check. Now imagine spending part of your weekly time taking care of your loved ones especially if they are living in your home. As you are driving your loved one from one appointment to another, you have forgotten to pick up the dry cleaning or go shopping for an item. Suddenly, the emotions begin to simmer and stir. Your patience runs thin. You begin to think “where has the day gone? Where is my life going?”
Caregiver burnout and stress is very common among caregivers. Research has shown that caregivers are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression. They are more likely to have long term health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Elderly people who have reported high levels of stress while taking care of their disabled spouses were 63 percent more likely to die within four years than caregivers who were not feeling stress. Part of the reason for this is because these caregivers are less likely to take care of themselves.
Ask yourself the following questions
• Do you lose your temper or patience easily?
• Do you find yourself being angry often towards your loved one?
• Do you feel run down, fatigue, or lack the incentive to participate in activities you once did?
• Is it more difficult now to make plans for yourself?
• Are you beginning to experience health problems and / or are they getting worse? Are you refusing to set an appointment to see a doctor?
So what causes caregiver burnout? Caregivers will absolutely want to make sure that everything is going smooth as silk. In other words: perfectionism. Multitasking and trying to complete every task within a given timeframe is difficult, but when it is compounded by having to make sure they do everything on their own and leave little room for error, it becomes unattainable at times. Caregivers who do not allow themselves to share their feelings regarding their experience prevent them from completing or tending to their tasks correctly. These blocked emotions will often surface in other ways such as forgetting things or losing patience with their loved ones.
How can we deal with the stress?
• Get exercise and sufficient rest
• Schedule appointments with your medical doctor
• Join caregiver support group
• Be willing to relinquish some control and manage your tasks
• Surround yourself with a good support system
Caregiving is one of the hardest jobs one can ever have. Since it is very difficult, it is imperative that you make your own self-care a priority. If you are good to yourself, you can always be good to others.