Being a caregiver is a full-time job for those who are caring for their parent(s) or a senior loved one. At MedTransportCenter, we understand the difficulties caregivers go through for their patients. Evaluating personal feelings and taking breaks for oneself can help ease caregiver burnout. Stress can linger and creep up to manifest in a variety of symptoms. Being mindful of stress can aide in finding help early on and reducing the triggers to maintain a healthier mindset.
The main symptoms(1) of caregiver burnout are:
- Anxiety, depression, irritability.
- Feeling tired and run down.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Overreacting to minor nuisances.
- New or worsening health problems.
Many caregivers at times find themselves overwhelmed, frustrated and tired after spending countless hours caring for another person. Feelings of not having full control over their situation depending on their circumstances can creep in unexpectedly. If you do not have a plan to help combat these symptoms, then caregivers can take the fast track to burnout.
Here are the following 10 Tips on Preventing Caregiver Burnout.
- Set goals, expectations and know your limits.
- Understand the strength & limits of your patient.
- Stay organized & maintain a balanced schedule.
- Engage in daily activities to promote health & wellness.
- Eat healthy, maintain mindfulness, & engage in good sleep habits.
- Find time for respite & breaks.
- Take a daily inventory of your feelings, accept and release.
- Know your Community Resources.
- Find a Support Group.
- Ask for Help.
Tip 1: Set Goals, Expectations & Know your Limits
With any new venture, one should always set a variety of goals, set plans and have a full understanding of the end result. As a caregiver, you may get frustrated but understanding that your patient or parent may get frustrated with their own current living situation, health and mind play a part of their frustration as well. Feelings may come up of not wanting to be so reliant on another person for activities that once were easy.
Within this section, MTC will discuss how to set goals, maintain expectations and know your limits for both parties.
Set goals or deciding what you would like to accomplish in the next three to six months is an important tool for taking care of yourself. You will have to set small goals to achieve larger goals but it is important to remember that each goal, no matter the size, will need action steps to make tasks easier so you can complete your goals.
Here are some sample goals and action steps:
- Engage in activities that will make you and your patient feel more healthy.
- Once you’ve set a goal, ask yourself, “What steps do I take to reach my goal?” Make an action plan by deciding first, second, third, etc. step and determine a flexible timeline. Then, get started!
Goal and Action Steps Example
Goal: Be more healthy.
- Schedule a physician check up.
- Make a grocery list with healthy food options.
- Drink more water.
- Take breaks every 3 hours and stretch.
- Walk three times a week for 10 minutes, try to increase time to 30 minutes in the next month.
Expectations are a key aspect in any goal setting. Setting them too high can create caregiver burnout, setting them too low may not be fulfilling enough to maintain the role and staying true to the middle of these extremes can create a more healthy and balanced level of expectations. It will be a balancing act to maintain them. These next tips will help set expectations and the ability to clearly maintain them.
- Make expectations clear for yourself.
- Set boundaries, if needed, so you can make your expectations clear to others.
- I am willing to do these items.
- I am not willing to do these items.
- Understand why you need to set expectations.
- This is to prevent caregiver burnout and maintain your own mental health.
- Meet with the patient to discuss your expectations and ask their expectations for care.
- Are you willing to drive to doctors appointments, laundry, meals, bathing, taking them to senior-friendly activities?
- What are their needs and expected timelines to complete tasks?
- Dishes and laundry to be completed daily.
- Decide on mutually beneficial expectations.
- Move toward an agreement between parties.
- Write down all expectations and create a schedule.
- This can be a more organized way to use expectations into an organized list of daily tasks and add them to a monthly schedule so everyone is aware of what needs to be done.
- Ex. The expectation for a patient that the caregiver will take to physical therapy appointments every M,W,F at 9am. Agreed task by both parties and write it down on a calendar.
- Agree on expectations and commit to these goals.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep and don’t agree to items you can’t complete. This brings us back to #1. Make sure your expectations are clear to yourself and don’t overachieve if you can’t commit to the expectations of your patient. “The lack of clearly understood expectation is the source of much strife in relationships, the cause of most conflicts, and the beginning of a poor organizational performance.”(3)
Know your Limits – You know when you recognize your limits? When you go past them! This is very easy to do if you may not be familiar with certain areas of care giving and new events arise. A new medical condition, the patient took a turn and will now be needing hospice care. All new changes can create a level of anxiety that can have a variety of challenges. The best way to prevent caregiver burnout is to know your limits. Think about what you are willing and capable of doing. Are you physically capable to help a patient up and down out of a bed or into the bathroom multiple times per day?
Can you handle emotional stress if a patient suffers from dementia and the symptoms make it a challenge for both parties to get through a day without getting angry with one another?
These are all things to consider when starting a new path into care giving or if you have been a caregiver for a long period of time.
Who We Are:
Med Transport Center offers non-emergency long-distance medical transportation by ground (MED Coach) or in flight (MED Flight). Med Transport Center has provided comfortable accommodations that support disabled or special needs patients for the last 30+ years. Our transportation service is designed for anyone who has increased medical needs or limited mobility, including the elderly, disabled, or even those who are just needing a little assistance during their travel.
Med Transportation Center is dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable journey with each ground or in flight transport. Each transport is medically-equipped for non-emergency transports, offers 2 professional drivers, a licensed nurse and an emergency physician in case the need arises. Furthermore, our utmost priority is to make sure that your loved one will safely get to his or her destination.
Our expert professionals coordinate the trip for your loved one while all you will have to do is call to make arrangements.
Call us today for a FREE Quote – 800-311-3412.