There are many reasons a person takes on the role as primary caregiver for a family member or friend. The task can be rewarding and shows love and compassion. It can also be stressful, and overwhelming demands in a situation not likely to improve make caregivers prone to burnout.
At Med Transport Center we have dedicated our lives to providing the highest quality care. We know that working with loved ones who need us is satisfying, but we also know that it can take its toll. This is especially true in situations when care is needed for years or maybe decades.
Frustration and despair are the caregiver’s main enemies. It might feel like life has been put on hold. The changes in family dynamic, financial pressure, and added workload pile up until they appear like obstacles impossible to overcome. Caregiving is a demanding job, and no one can do it all alone.
It is important to recognize the slippery slope towards burnout, because once it happens, caregiving is no longer a healthy option. Burnout will affect both the person providing care and the person needing care. Asking for help or taking time for yourself is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include anxiety, depression, and irritability. Do you have difficulty sleeping, yet always feel tired and run down? Do little things get on your nerves? Are you developing health problems yourself?
Managing stress and making sure that you are doing okay is just as important as making sure the person requiring care gets to the doctor’s appointment or takes their medication. The person receiving care might object to you not being there around the clock, but taking on all responsibilities for giving care without regular breaks or assistance is a recipe for disaster.
It is also easy to be frustrated with people around you, because they don’t offer help, or even see that you need help. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to help you. Explain why it’s hard to do it on your own. Be honest with your feelings and what kind of help you need. It’s a good idea to spread the responsibility on as many people as possible. Maybe someone can help run errands, someone can deal with paperwork and bills, and so on.
Another good idea is scheduling time for your self. Set aside time to do whatever you like to do. Focus on the things you can control, and keep in touch with your friends. You might also want to look into online support groups. Talking to anonymous people who understand your situation can provide great relief.
If you feel that taking time for yourself is egotistical, remind yourself that you need to be happy and rested in order to provide the best possible care.