Caring for your loved one can be a tender, rewarding experience. At times, it can also become overwhelming. It’s easy to forget about your own needs, putting you at serious risk of burnout. Caregiver Fatigue, also known as Caregiver Burnout, is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience stress, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, and/or depression. You may get sick easily, or you may have trouble sleeping.
If you’re a caregiver, here are a few suggestions to avoid Caregiver Fatigue:
- Accept that your feelings are natural and normal. Your life has changed in profound ways, so it’s natural to feel frustrated and to grieve for what you have lost.
- Talk with someone you trust about your feelings and frustrations. Consider a therapist, social worker, or clergy member. They’re trained to listen with empathy, and they can offer advice on physical and emotional issues.
- Accept help from others. Family, friends, neighbors, and/or those in your church community may be willing to offer assistance. Many people consider it a gift to be part of a caregiving team. Honestly identify your needs and ask for help. An online “care calendar” is useful in scheduling the helping hands.
- Set aside time for yourself. Even if it’s just an hour or two, it’s worth it. Exercise, relax, visit a friend, go out to dinner, see a funny movie, whatever helps you to replenish your physical and emotional energy. Taking a break doesn’t mean running errands or doing chores. This is “you” time.
- Consider respite care services. The help can range from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Adult Day Centers provide engaging programs for those with dementia while offering respite for the full-time caregiver.
- Join a Caregiver Support group. Share … vent … laugh … cry … all while building community with others in the same situation. A support group can help reduce stress, locate useful resources, and stay connected with others. Ideally you would attend in person, but online forums are also available.
If you’d like to explore further ideas, tools, and options to support the caregiver, consider attending the Caregivers Summit on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. Here’s the link for more information: http://caregiverssummit.org/chapel-hill/
Remember: Taking care of yourself allows you to continue caregiving with a positive and loving attitude.
About the Author:
Lorenzo Mejia and his wife, Mary Lynn Ryerson, are the owners of Acorn, a caregiver registry located in Chapel Hill.
They founded Acorn based on their experiences caring for his mom, who suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2013, he became a Qualified Dementia Care Specialist. In 2014, the Alzheimer’s Foundation named him the Dementia Care Professional of the Year in the United States.
Lorenzo is the founder of Dementia Friendly Orange County an effort to make local businesses more accommodating to people with dementia.
Lorenzo speaks often on dementia and the challenges associated with caring for loved ones. He has been interviewed by ABC News and National Public Radio. He is an advisor to Orange County’s OC-CARES Dementia Capable Community Project.