Having the ability to take care of an aging loved one or parent can be incredibly rewarding. You get to return the favor of unconditional care, spend quality time with them, and ensure that the quality of their care is up to your standards. But taking on the role of family caregiver is not without its challenges.
The stress of the added responsibility, the lack of guidance and available resources, and the time or scheduling conflicts that can arise due to emergencies can eventually lead to caregiver burnout. The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as a condition that leads to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, which can occur when “caregivers don't get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially.” Burnout can occur as a result of role confusion, feelings of guilt, unrealistic expectations, lack of control, and a variety of other reasons.
Understanding Caregiver Burnout
According to statistics collected by Aging In Place, nearly half of family caregivers report having trouble balancing work and caregiving responsibilities, and 8 percent “state that they have been sidelined from job-growth opportunities because of their caregiving responsibilities.” Three-quarters of family caregivers find the responsibility of caregiving to be very stressful, and more than half find it to be overwhelming.
Of the roughly 34 million people providing unpaid care to a family member over the age of 50, it is estimated that anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of them have experienced depression as a result. A lack of clarity about that last statistic could be a result of the fact that caregiver burnout symptoms are similar to those of stress and depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the symptoms of burnout include:
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless and helpless
- Changes in appetite, weight or both
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Getting sick more often
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
While these symptoms can be overwhelming to live with--not only for you but also for your friends and loved ones--they are not permanent. There are many ways to prevent caregiver burnout, including enlisting help from a private caregiver to remove the burden from your shoulders.
Help Is On The Way With A Private Caregiver
A private caregiver is an excellent resource for family caregivers who want to prevent burnout and still provide their loved one with high-quality care at home. Hiring a qualified caregiver to provide your loved one with care at home will not only help you get some much-needed respite from your caregiving duties, but it can also provide you with the following benefits:
- Set realistic goals and boundaries. A big contributing factor to caregiver burnout is putting too much pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone who needs you, often at the expense of your health and well-being. When you hire a private caregiver, you can clearly define the role that they will play in caring for your loved one. Determine which aspects of their care you would like to outsource; will you have them do laundry and light house cleaning? Go grocery shopping and prepare meals? Run errands? Hiring a private caregiver enables you to outsource the tasks that are most stressful or time consuming for you.
- Gain more insight into your loved one’s health needs. Sometimes a little bit of distance and a fresh set of eyes can give you greater perspective on a problem. When it comes to your loved one’s health, a well-trained caregiver can recognize larger issues that might be at play and address them straightforwardly. Family caregivers sometimes have trouble emotionally distancing themselves from the situation in order to properly assess their loved one’s needs. A caregiver is trained to take in a variety of factors--environmental, mental, physical, emotional--and make educated judgments about health and wellness needs.
- Take more time for self-care. The best way to describe the need for self-care while caring for an older loved one is to think about what flight attendants tell you on a plane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help others put on theirs. When you hire someone to provide your loved one with care at home, you’ll give yourself more time for, well, yourself. Whether that means going to bed an hour earlier each night, getting to exercise more, or finally being able to take a vacation without worrying, a private caregiver will provide you with the peace of mind you need to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
- Stop treading water. Often, when we take on too much, we can’t do anything with 100% effort. Providing your loved one with professional care at home can help you feel like you no longer have to tread water at work, in your relationships, and in your family life. A private caregiver can help you get your own life back on track, which will ultimately allow you to provide better care and emotional support to your aging loved one.
Many people think that hiring a private caregiver has to be a full-time commitment, but even hiring someone for just 16 hours per week can have a positive impact on your life and help to prevent caregiver burnout.
CaregiversDirect Provides Care You Can Trust
If you feel as though you could use some respite from full-time caregiving duties of a loved one, CaregiversDirect can help. To discuss the best care plan for you and your loved one, call our dedicated Senior Care Specialists at 1-800-370-3377. And if you’re not exactly sure what type of care you might need, rest assured that we will help you figure it out. When you join the CaregiversDirect family, you no longer have to navigate the world of caregiving on your own.