Caring for an elderly loved one is a loving, noble act for which you should feel proud. However, the demands of providing care can also be overwhelming and stressful, especially if the older adult requires 24-hour care over the long term.
Feelings of being in over your head while providing adequate care, or if the older person’s condition is getting worse, despite your best efforts, can also compound stress and anxiety when carrying out care duties.
If left unchecked, you can be at risk of caregiver burnout, which can affect your physical and mental health. At this point, the level of care you provide might not be adequate, affecting the well-being of your loved one.
The key to avoiding caregiver burnout is to practice optimal self-care that builds resilience to stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Let’s look at the signs of caregiver stress and explore ways to avoid it.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout
Sometimes, symptoms of caregiver burnout can creep up on you before you know what’s happening. That’s why it’s essential to recognize the signs of approaching burnout and take action before it’s too late. Here are the symptoms of approaching burnout to look out for:
- Signs of anxiety, irritability, or depression
- Constantly feeling run down or tired
- Impatience with minor nuisances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problem sleeping
- Getting sick more often
- Neglecting personal relationships, activities, responsibilities
- Resentful feelings
- Drinking, smoking, or eating more than usual
If these signs aren’t recognized, you could be heading for burnout. Signs of this condition include:
- Reduced energy and attentiveness
- Feelings of exhaustion, even after sleeping or taking a break
- Diminished immune system, leading to colds and flu
- No longer caring about your health or happiness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Caregiving has consumed all of your time, but you no longer enjoy it
- Acting hostile or impatient toward your elderly loved one
Now that we understand the signs, let’s discover ways to avoid caregiver burnout so you can continue providing the loving care your relative deserves.
Five ways to avoid caregiver burnout
When you’re providing care, you’re actually taking care of two people: your relative and yourself! Wouldn’t you want to treat yourself with the same love and compassion as you would your loved one? Caregiver burnout can affect your ability to care for yourself or your relative.
Fortunately, there are some practical ways to mitigate the risk of burnout while creating a better caregiver experience for you and your older relative.
Take breaks to enjoy activities or pamper yourself
Any busy person will tell you that tasking for oneself seems like an impossible luxury. However, it’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity. You need time to enjoy the things you love to do every day to maintain an optimal level of elder care.
Getting together with family or friends, enjoying leisure activities such as reading, gardening, or watching television, taking a long, hot bath, venturing outside for a walk, and finding every opportunity to smile and laugh with someone are excellent ways to take time for yourself between care duties.
Take care of your own health
Caregiving can be hard enough without doing so while you’re sick. It’s perfectly natural to prioritize a loved one’s health over your own, but not taking care of your health will affect your ability to provide care.
The best ways to protect your health are actually quite simple:
- Eat well, focusing on vitamin-rich, nutritious food
- Get plenty of sleep to recharge your brain and body
- Take breaks during the day when you feel you need them
- Make time to exercise as little as 30 minutes per day to stay resilient, keep your energy up, and improve your mood
Trying yoga, deep breathing, or meditation exercises can also enhance your overall well-being. Finally, be sure to see your doctor for regular checkups to ensure any potential health issues are caught and treated early.
Share your feelings to protect your mental health
In any situation, it’s always best to avoid keeping negative feelings bottled up. Sharing your concerns with others can help relieve stress, renew feelings of empowerment, and regain perspective in the wonderful work you’re doing.
You can talk to friends, family members, religious leaders, your doctor, or anyone else who will listen respectfully, provide empathetic support, and help you celebrate all the positives you bring to caregiving. You can also join a caregiver support group to engage with people going through the same things you are.
Seek out and accept help
Even if your loved one is relatively healthy, care responsibilities can be overwhelming for just one person. In some cases, such as in an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis, the person’s care needs will increase over time. Eventually, they may require 24-hour care, an almost impossible task for just one person.
It’s okay to seek out and accept help from other family members or friends. You’re not completely giving up control of your loved one’s care needs, nor are you failing them. If anything, you’re ensuring they get the best care possible by allowing others to pitch in. You’ll preserve your physical and mental health and ability to provide the best care possible.
Hire professional in-home elder care
Another great way to avoid caregiver burnout is to hire in-home eldercare professionals. They will provide a high level of care expertise and become invaluable care partners with sound advice and support based on years of experience. Watching them work can be inspiring and bring renewed joy to caring for your loved one.
In-home caregivers are also there for your family if you have any questions or concerns, especially if you feel overwhelmed or burnt out. Best of all, with the support of professional care providers, you’ll be able to focus less on full-time care duties, and more on leisurely pursuits with your elderly loved one. You’ll be able to create more happy memories to cherish for a lifetime while avoiding the adverse health outcomes of caregiver burnout.
Quality in-home elder care in Etobicoke, Toronto West, Mississauga, and Brampton
Taking care of an elderly loved one is a wonderful, noble task. However, doing it alone can be difficult and overwhelming, potentially leading to caregiver burnout. Don’t wait until burnout becomes a concern – seek professional elder care from CareHop.
Our caregivers specialize in providing quality in-home elder care on an on-demand or live-in basis. We can also help make care for your family easier by helping out with
homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship. Our elder care services are designed to positively impact your family’s lives and bring joy and sunshine into your loved one’s home.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you.