Typically a family member serves as the primary caregiver for a dying loved one. Living rooms turn into hospital rooms. These often-untrained caregivers have to make key medical decisions, sometimes hourly. The process of caregiving can be extremely stressful and very chaotic. Caregivers get so busy caring for others that they can neglect their own physical and emotional health. Giving can also be a way of coping.
Caregiver burnout is real, for caregivers at home with a loved one and for professionals caring for many elderly residents at a time. Here are some questions you can ask yourself or someone you know to determine if they are headed towards caregiver burnout. Do you feel like you are always riding an emotional roller coaster? Are you often irritable, anxious and gloomy? Getting sick often? Stress not only breeds depression and anxiety, it can weaken your immune system so you catch every bug that crosses your path and you stay sick longer. If you have a day off, are you still thinking and processing occurrences/problems of caregiving? Do you have unpleasant dreams about who you are caring for? Is your appetite poor? Can’t think straight? Are you exhausted even after a good nights sleep?
Here is what I know for sure, you can’t take good care of anyone if you don’t take good care of yourself. Period. Just imagine the additional stress and frustration you would feel if you were confined to bed sick, and you had to quickly arrange for someone else take care of your loved one. In many cases, this would be a stranger from an agency that you wouldn’t have the time to interview for a good fit.
What would you tell a caregiver headed towards burnout?