Unlike professional caregivers such as physicians and nurses, informal caregivers, typically family members or friends, provide care to individuals with a variety of conditions including advanced age, dementia and cancer. These informal caregivers mostly come under enormous stress. They often experience negative psychological, behavioral and physiological effects on their daily lives and health.
This is the untold story of the professional caregivers who have to not only cope with the pressures of a highly stressful career but also with the family commitments and managing old parents. Most of them without realizing are experiencing the condition of Caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. It occurs when the caregivers don’t get the required help or do and spend above and beyond their means. They may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Recognizing symptoms in such caregivers:
- Are you withdrawn from friends and family?
- Have you lost interest in hobbies you previously enjoyed?
- Do you feel irritable, hopeless and helpless?
- Do you have a change in appetite?
- Have you observed a change in your sleep patterns?
- Do you fall ill more often?
- Are you emotionally and physically exhausted?
If the answer to the above questions is YES then you are probably experiencing a Caregiver Burnout.
How should this be addressed?
- Find that person you can befriend and trust your feelings and frustrations with. This could be a neighbor, co-worker, a friend or even a professional therapist trained to handle the situation.
- Set realistic goals and seek help when required.
- Recognize your limitations and be realistic about your loved ones disease, especially if it is a progressive one such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
- Spending quality time however little, taking care of yourself.
- Enquire and use respite care services. This can provide a temporary break for the caregiver.
- Educate yourself about the disease.
- Develop coping mechanisms like humor to deal with the everyday stresses.
- Stay healthy by having the right combination of food, exercise and sleep.
Ultimately, you must understand your own limitations when you have to take care of your loved ones. It’s true they need our love and patience, as do you. So be patient and compassionate, not just with our loved one but also with yourself.
Author: Aravinda Shetty Email:firstname.lastname@example.org