Each year, millions of Americans donate their time and talents to look after aging-in-place friends and relatives. When you find yourself in this position, serving as an informal caregiver can be one of the most gratifying experiences you’ll ever have. On the other hand, it can also be an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs depending on the day. Preventing caregiver burnout requires the ability to find healthy ways for Recharging Your Caregiving Energy.
Caregiver Burnout Warning Signs
As the days turn into weeks and months, the average informal caregiver runs the risk of getting overworked, overtired, and overstressed. Exhaustion, worry, inadequate resources, and strained relationships are daily challenges that caregivers face.
Caregiver burnout warning signs include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty performing simple tasks
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Postponing or completely ignoring medical appointments
- Substance abuse
- Not exercising enough
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Social isolation and loneliness
Ignoring these symptoms won’t make them go away. If allowed to persist, caregiver burnout will eventually affect the quality of life of both you and your care recipient.
How to Stay Energized as a Caregiver
Here are ten ways to keep caregiver burnout from bringing you down:
No matter how hard you try, your loved one’s condition will eventually worsen. Rather than allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, prioritize your daily tasks and focus on the most important ones— like getting Mom to eat everything on her plate. After all, you’re only human!
Get enough sleep
The human body requires seven to eight hours of sleep every day to replenish its energy stores and heal. Lying awake at night worrying about things outside your control won’t do you or your loved one any good.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, and negative self-talk are bad habits you should avoid all the time, especially when energy is at a premium.
Although they may provide a quick burst of energy, fat-filled and sugary foods aren’t the long-term solution to a healthier you. Instead, eat a nutrient-rich diet filled with fresh fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful caregiver. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy every week. Use your newfound downtime to get a massage, learn a new hobby, or go shopping with your friends. After all, you’ve earned it!
Journal your experiences
Another way to emotionally decompress is by keeping a daily caregiving journal. Use it to record both positive and negative experiences that you are going through— like the fact you were able to get Dad out of the house today.
Exercising for at least 20 minutes 3 to 5 times a week will help you reduce stress, sleep better, and fight off illnesses— all of which will keep you feeling refreshed to take on whatever life sends your way!
Join a support group
Caregiver support groups are a great place to share your innermost feelings with like-minded individuals who understand your struggles. Whether you attend online or in-person, fellow group members can also be an invaluable source of caregiving tips.
Seek professional counseling
Negative feelings like anxiety and depression can zap your energy. Speaking with a licensed therapist will provide you with the opportunity to express your thoughts without being judged. A professional counselor can also provide you with tips on staying energized when nothing else seems to work.
Take time off
Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure. Avoid burnout by seeking relief through community resources, family, friends, or adult daycare. Another option is to hire a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care agency.
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Families in Washington, DC
Finding someone trustworthy to fill in while taking a well-deserved break isn’t always easy. At Help at Home in Chevy Chase, we’ve provided personalized in-home care to families in the greater Washington, DC, area for over 20 years. Our mission is delivering the most comprehensive and compassionate senior home care possible, using a unique, hands-on approach with every client and family we serve.
Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our in-home services include personal care, transitional care, respite care, geriatric care, end-of-life care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, holiday companion care, and more. To learn more about our top-quality home care services or schedule an initial assessment for a senior in our service area today, please visit www.helpathomecare.com.