The expectations of people caring for loved ones often do not correspond to reality. Many caregivers are confident that their care will have a positive impact on the health and good spirits of the old or sick person. But if they are caring for a person with a progressive disease, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, those expectations may not be met. In this article, we will consider how to prevent burnout while caring for seniors and why many people choose such a service as home care assistance in Brooklyn, NY.
How to recognize the signs of burnout
If the caregiver does not pay attention to their own health and well-being, this can lead to burnout. Carers are constantly preoccupied with the needs of loved ones and often forget about their own emotional and physical well-being. They may not eat properly or get enough rest and exercise. As a result, they will lack the energy needed for quality care.
- Frequent mood swings and emotional outbursts.
Frequent mood swings and emotional outbursts can be symptoms of burnout. Every caregiver sooner or later faces a sense of physical and moral exhaustion. The cause can be both secondary stress and a more serious problem – burnout. Caring for another person is an activity that causes “emotional swings”. An overburdened caregiver is easily upset or angry over trifles. He or she may refuse food or overeat. Even after a good night’s sleep, there is a feeling of exhaustion. Thinking becomes unclear, and interest in things that used to please disappears.
In a state of burnout, caregivers may begin to avoid friends and family. If you notice that you have not wanted to communicate with other people, especially loved ones, for a long time, this may mean that caring for a senior person has become too difficult.
- Increased or decreased appetite.
Sudden changes in appetite may indicate burnout. It is abnormal for a caregiver to eat too little and too much.
- Restless sleep and exhaustion after resting all night.
If you can’t get enough sleep, and after sleeping all night, you still feel overwhelmed, this indicates the onset of burnout.
- Loss of interest in favorite things.
You can also notice burnout by losing interest in things and activities that you used to like. The person who bears the main burden of caring for loved ones may feel helpless and lost. Due to the inability to concentrate, the effectiveness of the caregiver drops. He ceases to rejoice at the small successes of the seniors or their response to the care shown. As a result, caregivers cease to take care of themselves and their well-being, lose interest in communicating with others, and maintain social connections and activities for the soul: reading books, watching movies, and other forms of relaxation.
How to avoid a burnout
If it is impossible to get rid of negative thoughts, it is necessary to take measures to reduce the symptoms of stress and burnout. Being prepared for the worst and still hoping for the best is a helpful mindset, but if you can’t keep a positive attitude and constantly think about the negative, it may be due to mental exhaustion and burnout.
- Call a family meeting.
Before you take on the role of a caregiver, you need to discuss this with your family. First and foremost, assemble a care team. It can include immediate and distant relatives, as well as friends and neighbors with whom you have a close relationship. Everyone who can help care for a loved one should be invited to the initial family council – including the senior himself if his mental and physical condition allows him to fully participate in the conversation. This measure is especially important if a loved one has been diagnosed with an early stage of a serious illness, such as dementia.
- Hire an assistant or a caregiver.
It is possible that you will not be able to handle all your caregiving responsibilities. This is ok. People who try to care often feel guilty. They feel like they don’t care enough about their relatives. The reason is an idealized idea of what the role of the caregiver entails. In this case, helping around the house can seriously change the situation for the better. A caregiver can be selected in an agency or privately. Be sure to make a list of tasks that you would like to delegate to this specialist. Approximately 40% of caregivers cite changing diapers as the most difficult task in caring for a human with incontinence. Another 30% have difficulty helping their old relatives to take a shower or go to the toilet. Would you like your loved one to be bathed and dressed by someone other than his relative? Perhaps it is worth entrusting the control of medication intake and trips to doctors to a professional health worker? A little help in strategically important areas will greatly facilitate the care of a senior.
- Better prioritize and adapt your schedule.
If you have come to the conclusion that the current situation is uncomfortable for you, it is time to change it. Design a new schedule based on your needs – this will require some compromises. If the person you’re caring for is strongly opposed to change, it might be worth setting some boundaries and not feeling guilty about it. Remember that you are only human and your powers and abilities are limited.
- Don’t be afraid to contact a psychologist.
To better manage the natural feelings that come with caring for another person, especially if their mental and physical health is slowly declining, you may need professional help. Such complex feelings are, for example, anger, despair, sadness, anxiety, and guilt. Some of them are an integral part of the mourning process in which caregivers and old people are involved.
Feelings of guilt one way or another arise in all people who care about loved ones. They may feel that they are not caring enough or in the right way. Caregivers get frustrated when they periodically lose patience and lose their temper. This natural phenomenon may be a sign that you need a break.
Caring for loved ones, the caregiver feels needed and in demand. An important task appears in the life of such a person, which inspires and pleases him. However, with the wrong approach to caring for a loved one, the caregiver may face a number of serious problems. One of them is burnout. To avoid burnout or recover from it, you should seek the help of professionals. Galaxy Home Care provides care services for old and sick people, including people diagnosed with dementia. With the help of this company, you can find a reliable professional who will live with your relative and take care of him around the clock. Here you can also find a caregiver with special medical skills.