One-in-three adults in the United States currently serve as informal caregivers, usually for an aging parent or other senior family member. And although providing care for an elderly loved one is highly rewarding, it can be time-consuming, challenging and stressful. Due to the constant physical and emotional demands of caregiving, family caregivers often times experience exhaustion, frustration, loneliness, sadness, anger and even guilt. Left unchecked, these feelings can eventually transition into a common condition known as “caregiver fatigue”. When that happens, roles get reversed and the one providing the caregiving needs to take some time off for some nurturing of their own. What follows are several proven ways to protect yourself from caregiver fatigue. But first let’s investigate some of the warning signs that a family caregiver may be starting to get burned out.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Fatigue
Frequently a caregiver gets so focused on providing care to an aging family member that they don’t even notice the negative impact it’s having on their own health. Here are some of the warning signs of caregiver fatigue to watch for:
- Lacking interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Feeling tired often
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Regularly feeling angry, irritable, sad or lonely
- Substance abuse including prescription medications
- Frequent physical problems like headaches or body pain
Over time, persistent stress can have a devastating effect on a person’s health and social relationships. Depression, anxiety and insomnia can even occur when a family caregiver reaches their tipping point. Not eating properly is also common, and that can cause various medical conditions like heart trouble and diabetes. It’s just common sense that you have to take care of yourself in order to serve as a caregiver for another. And the good news is there are many ways to stay refreshed so that you can continue delivering the nurturing care your aging loved one deserves.
Family Caregiver Tips for Staying Refreshed
Most family caregivers also have jobs and households to manage. And that’s a lot to juggle when you’re providing care to a senior loved one. Here are some proven ways to stay refreshed while avoiding caregiver fatigue:
- Set realistic goals– Break larger tasks up into smaller ones that you can easily do yourself. Prioritize, compile lists, follow a daily routine, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if a non-essential request seems excessive or unnecessary.
- Ask for help– Approach other family members or friends about sharing some of the workload. All of us have certain skills, so compile a schedule where everyone pitches in using theirs for specific caregiving activities during the week.
- Provide the care you do best– There is no perfect caregiver that can do it all, so don’t beat yourself over the head if there are tasks you simply can’t do. Instead, concentrate on the ones you can, and remember that your nurturing is making a positive difference.
- Stay connected– Seek out senior care resources in your community, including caregiver support groups. If your loved one has a medical condition, like dementia, take a class that will help you provide better care for them. Support groups are a great source of validation and encouragement for fellow caregivers.
- Get a checkup– Schedule an appointment with your personal physician for a complete physical. Discuss any caregiver stress issues you’re experiencing based on the list from above. Also, stay current on your vaccinations against illnesses like the flu.
- Establish personal goals– Set positive goals for yourself like exercising regularly, eating right, getting enough sleep, and taking caregiving breaks periodically. Monitor your progress weekly and continue making lifestyle adjustments as needed.
- Socialize with others– Maintain healthy relationships with your spouse, kids, other family members and friends. Make time for a weekend get-away, a quiet dinner or just some catching up over coffee with a friend.
- Hire a respite caregiver– Don’t feel guilty about paying a professional caregiver when you need to take some time off and there’s no one else available to fill in. There are numerous reliable senior home care agencies in your area that can provide the respite care your aging loved one needs.
When You Need a Break We’ll Step In
Serving as a family caregiver for an aging loved one is rewarding, but it can also be time-consuming, tiring and stressful. When it’s time for you to take a well-deserved break, Cranberry Home Care has the trustworthy respite caregivers you need. Our highly-trained caregivers are experts at carrying out duties like light housework, food shopping, cooking, personal hygiene, companionship and transportation. At Cranberry Home Care, our family-trusted in-home solutions are dependable, affordable and can be flexibly-tailored to meet your needs, all in a package that’ll restore your peace-of-mind. For more information on the reliable senior home care services we provide in the Middleboro, MA area, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now.