According to CaregiverAction.org, “More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.”
Caregiver burnout” is a real challenge that can affect all caregivers at some point. The best way to combat caregiver burnout is to know how to avoid it altogether and have some strategies in place to identify and prevent.
"Caregivers should NOT take on 100% of the care of a family member."
Caregiver burnout often happens when caregivers spend so much time caring for a loved one that they miss out on needed rest and leisure to recuperate and gain strength. Caring for a family member can be stressful, time-consuming, exhausting, and can put a strain on emotional and physical health. With the proper precautions and steps, caregivers can ultimately avoid caregiver burnout and remain in optimal health to provide the best support and care.
Here are 5 caregiver tips that will help reduce stress and avoid caregiver burnout:
- Healthy Acceptance – Feeling powerless in any situation is a large contributing factor to depression and anxiety. Many caregivers do not plan on becoming full-time care takers for loved ones and sometimes feel “stuck” in a role that they did not want to be in. Practicing acceptance and shifting your perspective can help alleviate feelings of depression and encourage happiness.
- Take Care of the Physical Self – Physical health plays a big role in the overall well-being of caregivers. Staying up-to-date on health checks and keeping doctor/dental appointments is crucial in staying physically healthy. Eating well and adopting a healthy eating plan can increase energy and improve physical and mental health. Exercise and good sleeping habits help maintain good energy, decrease stress, and promote patience and happiness. Taking care of the body will relieve feelings of stress and tension and allow caregivers to provide better support to those who need it.
- Ask for Help – Caregivers should NOT take on 100% of the care of a family member. Even small breaks from full-time caregiving can provide essential support. Don’t be afraid of asking friends and family for help. Hire in-home support that can provide respite care and allow periodic breaks. Taking personal time is essential in avoiding caregiver burnout.
- Get Resources – Talk to a doctor about what local resources are available. There are oftentimes financial resources, as well as respite support and more available to caregivers.
- Join A Support Group - Many places offer support groups where caregivers can find others who understand and relate to their situations. Support groups are a great place to get suggestions, information, learn about resources, make friends, relieve stress, and learn how to cope with the pressure that caregivers are often burdened with. If a local support group is not available, there are several online support groups that can provide powerful support.
"Physical health plays a big role in the overall well-being of caregivers."
Caregiver burnout can result in depression, exhaustion, irritability, social withdrawal, changes in appetite and weight, excessive use of alcohol or prescription medication, increase in illness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Use these pro tips to prevent burnout and continue to be your best self as you care for others.