Advanced Home Care is committed to delivering extraordinary home health care to our patients and their caregivers. As one of the largest home health providers in the nation, Advanced Home Care takes a comprehensive approach to patient care by providing all the clinical services, products, and supplies you may need, regardless of your medical condition, injury or illness. Through integrated services and programs, we care for and educate our patients on ways to improve personal health and maximize independence. This keeps you and your loved ones out of the hospital and in the comfort of your home so that you can get back to the things you love and live your life to the fullest.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout
Are you taking care of a loved one with health issues at home? If so, you can attest to the fact that it is extremely hard work. It can be intimidating, stressful and even lonely at times. Most caregivers will go through periods of increased stress and will often experience feelings of guilt, impatience, resentment and eventually burnout when caring for a family member or friend. It’s important to note that having these feelings does not make you a bad person. It simply means you are human.
The demands and responsibilities faced by most caregivers are daunting, relentless and can be overwhelming. That is why it’s critical to educate yourself, to know your resources, and to know the signs of caregiver burnout so you can prevent it before it starts. Once burnout sets in, it can compromise your mental, physical and emotional health, which can negatively impact the quality of care you are able to provide. Keeping yourself healthy is just as important as keeping your loved one healthy.
With life expectancies increasing each year, more and more Americans are serving as the caregiver for family members or friends within the home setting. This commitment and dedication to those we love comes with its fair share of sacrifices – family dynamics may shift as a result, the work involved is seldom easy, work/career conflicts may arise, and caregivers often forgo much of their personal time and leisure activities in order to provide the care that is required.
As these sacrifices take their toll, caregivers can face debilitating burnout with very serious consequences. In order to prevent burnout, caregivers are highly encouraged to follow these basic guidelines:
Spend time learning as much as you can about your loved one’s illness or condition. Take a trip to your local public library or conduct research online. Also, be sure to ask lots of questions when in the presence of clinical resources, such as physicians and nurses. They are there to help! The more you know, the more you can help your family member or friend in need and the more comfortable you’ll be playing the role of caregiver. However, be sure to recognize your limits. Be realistic when it comes to how much of you and your personal time you can give and clearly communicate those limits to others involved – such as doctors, nurses and family members.
Know your resources
Take advantage of the many community and online resources available to offer caregivers support. Tapping into community transportation services and joining community support groups can significantly improve stress levels and feelings of helplessness. Also, check with university gerontology departments, hospital social work units, and senior centers in your area for local contacts that may be able to provide assistance. There are also many online resources available for caregivers (see list below) and even online chat rooms dedicated to caregivers. Online chatting is an extremely helpful option for those who are unable to leave their home due to their responsibilities as a caregiver. A good place to start in your online research is the web site of an organization dedicated to the health issue, illness or condition you and your loved one face.
Take care of yourself
They say there’s no rest for the weary, but you have to make a conscious effort and take time to take good care of yourself if you expect to take good care of someone else. Stay physically active by maintaining an exercise routine, eat nutritious food and accept help when it is offered to you. Many caregivers feel guilty when they take someone up on an offer to relieve them for an afternoon or make dinner for the family. Don’t do you and your loved ones a disservice by trying to do it all yourself. When someone lends a helping hand, take it!
Know the warning signs of burnout
Be aware of the following signs of caregiver burnout and take action right away when you recognize a problem:
- Change in appetite, alcohol consumption, medication usage or sleeping patterns
- Feelings of depression or noticeable shifts in mood
- Decrease in energy, especially compared to your pre-caregiver energy levels
- Neglecting your own needs, either because you feel too busy or you no longer care
- Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or hopeless
Additional online caregiver resources:
- Today’s Caregiver: www.caregiver.com
- Resources for Aging – The Caregiver Sourcebook: www.ageinfo.com
- Children of Aging Parents: www.caps4caregivers.org
- Family Caregivers Alliance: www.caregiver.org
- Geriatric Resources, Inc.: www.geriatric-resources.com
- National Family Caregivers Association: www.thefamilycaregiver.org
- Well Spouse Foundation: www.wellspouse.org