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This Month In Life
  • Protect Your Pooch
    Looking up at you with those big puppy dog eyes, it can be hard to resist sharing what you're eating. But before you give in to their begging, think twice. Many foods that are completely safe and healthy for human consumption can be quite dangerous and even life threatening for man's best friend. Read >>
  • When You're in Charge
    While caring for a loved one is a rewarding and loving thing to do, it can be stressful. Added work, changes in your family schedule, financial strain, dealing with sickness, and the responsibility for someone else's well-being all take a toll on your relationships and your physical and emotional health. Read >>
  • Feeling Down: As Bad As Smoking
    You hear all the time about the health risks of smoking, but not too often about depression. What is it about depression that drives some people over the edge to attempt suicide and can you detect the warning signs of deadly depression to protect you and your loved ones? Read >>
  • No More Nagging
    What happens when you work hard to stay in shape, maintain your weight, and be healthy while your spouse refuses to exercise? You may suffer as well. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

When You're in Charge

Avoiding caregiver burnout.

When your loved one is ill, who better to care for them than you? While caring for a loved one is a rewarding and loving thing to do, it can be stressful. Added work, changes in your family schedule, financial strain, dealing with sickness, and the responsibility for someone else's well-being all take a toll on your relationships and your physical and emotional health. Let this go on without a break and this stress can lead to caregiver burnout.
If you reach the point of burnout, you'll no longer be fit to care for someone else, so it's to everyone's benefit if the primary caregiver gets the help and rest he or she needs. Taking a break isn't a suggestion. It's a requirement.

Burnout can be defined as a loss of enthusiasm, energy, idealism, perspective, and purpose; it has been described as trying to run a marathon at full speed. - Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett

Signs You Need Help

Caring for a loved one? Don't allow yourself to reach the point of burnout. Instead, recognize the symptoms of oncoming burnout before they grow worse and take the necessary steps to recharge. Signs the stress of caregiving is taking over include anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, health problems, difficulty focusing, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and a lack of interest in the activities you used to enjoy. Burnout also causes you to feel guilty when you do something for yourself rather than caring for your loved one every moment of every day.

You've likely reached burnout stage if you're constantly sick, have no energy, feel blue, don't take care of your own needs, can't relax, and do nothing but care for your loved one. The positive, caring attitude you once can quickly change to negative indifference and resentment.

Tips to Avoid Burnout

You may want to do it all. You may think you can. But without regular breaks and outside help, you're setting yourself up for burnout. Take care of yourself and your loved one by following these tips.

Get help. Don’t be hesitant to accept help when it's offered. Let neighbors run errands for you. See if a friend can sit with your loved one while you get your nails done, go shopping, or have lunch date with your spouse or a group of friends. Many reputable home health organizations offer services to care for your loved one. Take advantage of this service, whether it's an hour a week or five hours every day. Also, be willing to let other family members share the load.

Take breaks. Set time aside each day to de-stress and recharge doing something you enjoy. This could be reading, exercising, having coffee with a friend, or doing a hobby. Whatever you do, be sure to get out of the house every once in a while. You'll be a better caregiver if you do.

Deal With Your Feelings. When caring for someone else's needs, it's easy to push your emotions to the side. You've got to stay strong for everyone else right? But caring for someone who is chronically or terminally ill is stressful and emotionally draining. To avoid burnout, you can't pretend for long that you're okay when you're not. Don't keep your emotions bottled up inside, but talk regularly with a trusted friend or counselor.

Join a Support Group. It's good to know you're not alone. While you may feel that no one can quite understand what you’re going through as a caregiver, there are plenty of other people facing the same problems, frustrations, and emotions as you. Find a caregiver support group online or through your local hospital or hospice organization. With this group you'll be able to receive advice, resources, and support, while at the same time providing knowledge and support to others.

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