Many elders choose to live at home because it’s safe, secure and familiar. In order for elders to remain in the home, however, they must get help from caregivers, which usually include their children. You may be able to relate to this situation, as you may be caring for your own parents or elderly loved ones. The trouble is that by focusing your effort and attention on your loved one, you may be forgetting about yourself.
It’s important for caregivers to give themselves frequent breaks. By taking care of yourself, you can be a happier, more effective caregiver, which is giving your loved one the ultimate gift.
Here are four signs that you may be suffering from caregiver burnout and what you can do to help.
Being tired is one thing, but being exhausted is another. If you’ve been finding that everyday tasks are difficult to do – grocery shopping, laundry, cooking – you are probably suffering from exhaustion. This means that you are tiring yourself out from neglecting your own health and emotions. The best – and only – way to help exhaustion is to ask for and accept help from others. When you learn to ask for help, you’ll find that these small breaks are key to refreshing your mental and physical health.
2. Trouble Sleeping
Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? You may have too much on your mind, and therefore, it can’t rest. You have to realize that most things in life are not in your control, so you can’t plague yourself with what could happen. Find ways to ease your mind and release some control. Keeping an organized calendar, sticking to a routine and creating a custom care plan are all effective strategies for easing the mind and embracing a better sleep routine.
3. Frequent illness
Another sign that you may be suffering from caregiver burnout is that you continue to get frequent illnesses, everything from basic colds to more serious viruses. Getting sick frequently means that your immune system is weakened, and this cycle doesn’t help if you are constantly exposing yourself to germs from helping other people. Take care of your health, and tend to symptoms immediately. If you start to feel sick, don’t push yourself. Take it easy and get better. And if you do come down with something, take the time you need to heal.
4. Depression or anxiety
If you don’t find ways to detach yourself from caregiving, it will become your life. This can quickly make you feel stressed, depressed or anxious. Be aware of your moods and wellbeing, and address signs of depression early on. Keep an active social life, talk to friends and family and take time out each week to enjoy the things that make you happy.