Caregiver burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by the prolonged and overwhelming stress of caregiving. While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors.
Caring for the person who once took care of you may not be what you planned for. You may experience some of the growing pains they experienced while raising you, such as love, frustration, exhaustion, humor, confusion, and peace of mind. Unfortunately, like parenting, there is no “right way” of caring for a loved one. We do our best and hope that in the end it was enough. The good news is that you are not alone and there are ways to help you live the best life possible while caring for your loved one.
Add in cognitive changes, physical decline, family dynamics and overall exhaustion, it’s no wonder caregiver burnout is on the rise in America. Additionally, a generation of people who delayed having children until their thirties or forties, has been named, The Sandwich Generation, since they are responsible for bringing up their own children while caring for aging parents.
Tips for dealing with caregiver burnout:
- Alone time – both you and your loved one need and deserve time for yourself and for your own interests. Consider hiring a professional to support your loved one so that you can tend to your own needs.
- Support Groups – attending support groups and visiting a mental health professional may be a place to spend some of the alone time mentioned above.
- Breathe– Embrace the old saying, “Take a deep breath and count to 10.” When tensions get high take the time to walk away, clear the air, and start fresh with a sound mind.
- Enlist the professionals– be sure to research other care options which may be a better fit for you and your loved one. Is he or she very social? Would he/she thrive in a more social setting? Do his/her care needs require a certified professional? Sometimes being the emotional support person is equally, if not more important, than being their physical caregiver.
- Empathy– Try to give each other grace. This isn’t easy and there’s no handbook on how to do it best! Acknowledge one another’s efforts and try to move forward with love in your hearts.
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