The stress of caregiving can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health if you try to take on all the duties yourself. A condition called caregiver burnout can negatively affect your body and can even affect your mental and emotional state.
Essentially, caregiver burnout is chronic stress and studies show that it can trigger a number of health problems if the stress is not addressed. If you are struggling with pre-existing health problems of your own, they can become worse due to the stress of caregiving. The good news is that it is possible to find balance in your life as a caregiver and learn methods to deal with the chronic stress associated with your responsibilities.
Recognizing Caregiver Burnout
The first step is learning to spot the symptoms of caregiver burnout or chronic stress. The most common signs include poor sleep habits, frequent headaches, digestive problems, weight gain or loss and shoulder and neck pain. Other symptoms might include heart palpitations, chest pain, high blood pressure and skin rashes like hives. In extreme cases, you might notice hair loss and a weakened immune system.
When it comes to mental health issues related to caregiver burnout, the signs may be subtler. It’s common to experience mood swings, restlessness, increased frustration and irritability, lack of focus, anxiety and depression. In fact, it’s possible for caregivers to develop chronic depression that can further impact their lives. If you are noticing a few of the physical or mental signs of burnout, it’s time to get some help for yourself and your situation.
How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout happens when a person doesn’t have enough help or resources to properly care for themselves as they care for their aging mom or dad. Too many family caregivers try to take on all the duties themselves, as well as their responsibilities in their daily life like a job, spouse and children.
The most important way to prevent caregiver burnout is to get help with caregiving. While other family members may be able to pitch in, the best way to guarantee regular and experienced help is to hire a home care assistant from a reputable agency. Home care assistants can alleviate a lot of the duties you normally do, such as housekeeping, meal prep and companionship for your aging parent. They can also help with your loved one’s care via bathing, dressing, grooming and hygiene. Home care aides can even provide transportation for your mom or dad to destinations like appointments, store or library.
The other important factor in preventing caregiver burnout is to take care of yourself. Of course, a nutritious diet and restful sleep are important, but so is staying away from harmful habits like binge eating, too much alcohol and doing drugs. Find trustworthy people to talk to, such as a spouse, best friend or therapist. When the home care aide is with your aging mom or dad, take advantage of that and do things that will give you some balance, like a hobby, read a book or lunch with friends.
Caring for your aging parent is a wonderful way to deepen family bonds, but it should never be at the expense of your own health. Get help and take care of yourself to avoid caregiver burnout and be the best family caregiver you can.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elder Care in Berwyn, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care. Call today: 484-200-7347