It’s a fact that when you are caring for someone else your own health and well-being may suffer. Your focus is on their needs, not yours. Sadly, the one who is doing the caring may even predecease the one receiving care. Here are some ways to avoid caregiver burnout
- Stay positive. It sounds trite, but it helps. Take pleasure and pride in the small accomplishments. Maybe you figured out the best place to purchase adult diapers, or the safest way to execute a transfer. Give yourself a pat on the back. Everything you are doing is helping your loved one stay safer.
- Let go of perfection. Caregiving is a long road that usually ends only with the passing of your loved one. Be prepared for that eventuality. You might have been a successful executive in your prior life where everything was done 110%. In your role as caregiver, just getting from one day to the next with your loved one safe an intact may be sufficient accomplishment.
- Care for yourself. While it’s not easy to do, make the best effort to include some time for yourself. Go to the gym, get a massage, see a movie with a friend. Maintain a healthy diet.
- Be realistic. Set reasonable expectations about the illness that your loved one may have, its progression, and how that changes their needs. Certain illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s grow more severe as time goes on.
- Get help when you need it. Don’t be embarrassed to accept assistance. Ask friends to help, or perhaps get a respite caregiver for those times when you need a break.
- Talk about it. Sit down with someone you trust to discuss how you are feeling. It helps to share your frustrations with a friend, co-worker, or neighbor.
- Get professional help. There is no shame in calling a professional. Therapists, social workers and clergy members are trained to listen and offer guidance on a wide range of physical and emotional issues.
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.