Caring for an aging parent is a very challenging task. It demands a lot of time, patience and understanding.
Most of the time, you become so busy taking care of your aging parents that you tend to forget to take care of yourself. This can result into stress, anxiety, frustration and exhaustion, which may eventually lead to "Caregiver Burnout."
Common signs of caregiver stress include:
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and loved ones
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- A constant feeling of hopelessness
- Changes in weight
- Sleeplessness with complete emotional and physical exhaustion
- Frequent illness
- Excessive crying
- Low energy
- Anger towards the caretaker or other family members
These signs are leading indicators of depression. Stress impacts not only your ability to care for someone else but it harms your mental and physical health, too.
Surviving Caregiver Burnout
Your burnout as a caregiver is a real condition and should not be taken lightly. Burnout can occur for any number of reasons, but usually does because you have tried to do more than you are able to, either physically or mentally.
This burnout is avoidable. To manage your stress it requires taking active care of yourself while taking care of your aging parent.
How to Avoid Burnout?
The best way you can avoid caregiver burnout is to create and use a well-planned support system:
- Set realistic goals and turn to others for relief with certain tasks.
- Stay realistic about the illness you are challenging. Your role is not to heal, but to help make life manageable for caretaker.
- Set aside time for yourself. This is not a luxury, but a necessity.
- Explore respite care services and options.
- Educate yourself, take the time to research, and learn. There is a plethora of information available.
- Stick to the basics: eat right, exercise and take proper rest
- Pamper yourself. Take a bath; a long shower; spend time in nature; tap into your own spirituality.
- Accept your feelings of frustration and anger as normal.
- Join a care giving support group. Sharing your feelings with others in your same situation can be extremely helpful. Support groups help you manage stress, locate resources and provide a venue to reduce feelings of frustration and isolation.
- Make time for activities you enjoy.
- Caregiving is rewarding, but there will be times when you will also feel anger, sadness, frustration and grief. Try not to judge your feelings. They are neither good nor bad, but rather a normal part of being human.
Caregiving is hard work, filled with numerous demands. Sadly, many caregivers lose perspective about the importance of their role and feel guilty if they spend time on themselves. You cannot care for another person if you do not care for yourself. You must be kind to yourself and embrace the idea that your role as a caregiver is vital the society. You are engaged in the ultimate service - giving of yourself to another person. Honour your role and honour yourself.