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Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Burnout Signs

  • You don’t have the energy to do as much as you used to, and energy bars fail to perk you up
  • You frown and grumble more and more often
  • Your enthusiasm for caregiving -- and life -- has evaporated
  • Your immune system is failing.  You catch whatever is going around: bad for your patient as well as for you:
    • Cold
    • Flu
    • Stomach virus 
  • You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
  • You sacrifice your own needs and wants, either because you don’t have time or you just don’t care anymore
  • Frustration sets in because there’s little personal joy or pleasure in being the constant caregiver
  • Relaxing is hard, even when someone pitches in to relieve you
  • Unwittingly, you take your frustration and unhappiness out on your patient, who’s not having such a good time either
  • Hopelessness sets in.  You’re overwhelmed.  The job is more than you bargained for
  • Depression sets in and your future, as well as everything around you, looks bleak
  • You’re overcome by a feeling that there’s no life outside of caregiving

Once you experience burn out, caregiving is no longer a healthy option for you or your patient. 

Community Services Are There To Help

Examples are:

  • AtlantiCare Healthcare at Home programs
  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • Senior Centers
  • Senior service organizations
  • County services and referrals
  • Local universities that have programs or students who are willing to reach out and lend a hand
  • Family Services
  • Veterans Administration, if the patient is a veteran
  • Adult Day Care Programs
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Your patient’s insurance provider
  • The hospital where your patient was treated
  • Friends
  • Other relatives
  • Your faith-based organization may be able to provide help to both you and your patient
  • A local organization may provide transportation so the patient can enjoy a change of scenery at an adult day care center or other senior activity, providing the physician allows it
  • Your local YMCA may have a program – or be able to suggest one
  • The Internet

As for you personally:

  • Don’t let your emotions be bottled up as they get bigger and bigger, and more overwhelming
  • Join a support group yourself
  • Consult a professional therapist
  • Find a qualified professional counselor
  • Faith-based organizations are often willing and able to help in one way or another (by sending someone to relieve you, or by buoying up your own spirits)

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter.  If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”  Bill Cosby


Helpful Tips for Caregivers

A Baker’s Dozen Tips For Caregivers

  • Reward yourself with frequent breaks, like thumbing through your favorite magazine, reading a few pages of a book, or watching TV.  You’ve earned the right to relax periodically.
  • At the first sign of depression, reach out for professional help.
  • When help is offered, accept it, but be prepared to repay it with like kindness, if not financially.  Don’t let caregiving turn into a 24/7 job, doing everything yourself.
  • Learn to recognize signs of change in your patient – good or bad -- and communicate them to the professional(s) in charge.
  • New technologies and gadgets can relieve you of many caregiving burdens.  Learn what’s available. Don’t hesitate to rent or buy, and use, them.
  • Your instincts are usually on target.  Rely on them to guide you.
  • When lifting, pushing or pulling, learn techniques that are easy on your back and joints.
  • Don’t be afraid to dream new dreams and make plans to do something you love after you’re relieved of caregiving – like planning an exotic vacation.
  • Chat with other caregivers so you give each other support.  Your local area may have a caregiver support group. Join it!
  • Assert your rights and independence.  As caregiver, you are not a slave.
  • Be kind to yourself, as well as your patient.
  • Keep smiling and try to laugh a lot.  Your patient will feel better – and so will you.  
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book”
—   An Old Irish Proverb 
  • Rely on your faith for strength.  It’s amazing how much it will help you see through trying times, including grief and guilt.


Support For Caregivers - Web Links

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

The Care Of A Chronically Ill Or Disabled Relative Can Be Crippling To You-Physically, Mentally, Financially

The Challenge…

The objective of most insurance programs is to shorten hospital stays to lower costs, so patients are discharged earlier and require care at home.  You’ve got to be prepared for, and arrange, some form(s) of home care. 

Also, life expectancy is increasing, so more of us can expect to be parent or grandparent caregivers sooner or later.

Institutions, like most nursing homes, are fully equipped to handle every caregiver chore, but they’re expensive. They also lack the familiarity and comfort of home.

The Good News…

You’re not alone because there’s an abundance of help available, even if you’re on a limited budget or your patient’s insurance won’t cover the costs of help you need. 

Take advantage of outside help to lighten your load.

Learn about organizations and facilities in your area that will make your job easier, more satisfying, and less self-sacrificing…and that will give you much-needed time off. 

AtlantiCare Healthcare at Home offers caregivers solutions to relieve their every need. 

Be Prepared

  • Learn as much as you can about what’s expected of you as caregiver
  • Know your own physical and mental limitations.  Don’t take on more than you know you can handle time-wise and energy-wise
  • Enlist the help of friends and other family members
  • You can almost be sure that you’ll experience a mix of emotions at one time or another:
    • Anger
    • Fear
    • Depression
    • Resentment
    • Guilt
    • Grief
    • Helplessness
    • Frustration

Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.  Talk with family and friends, though they’re almost sure to get tired of listening. If so, don’t hesitate to contact a professional therapist, counselor, or a qualified faith-based advisor.


Support For Caregivers

When a family-member's condition is such that they require significant in-home care, the demands on the primary caregivers can be overwhelming. 

Being a home caregiver with, or without, help is a 24/7 job and the caregiver easily gets burnout because the job requires: 

  • Changing dressings without feeling faint or repulsed
  • Cooking special foods and maintaining a special diet for the patient while preparing regular meals for the rest of the family
  • Giving the right medicines in proper doses on schedule
  • Administering other treatments on schedule
  • Doing extra laundry
  • Partnering with the doctor, nurses and therapists
  • Bathroom duty
  • Keeping the patient clean and comfortable
  • Changing bedding more frequently
  • Maintaining a hygienic, fresh smelling home
  • Making sure the home – and everything surrounding the patient – is safe  

Several home caregiver tasks require special professional skills, training, and experience that you, as a family member, aren’t likely to  have.

Though being a home caregiver may sound like a job that includes a lot of self-sacrifice (which it does), it’s not difficult and has its rewards when done properly with professional help and relief.

AtlantiCare Healthcare at Home to the Rescue

Recognizing the need for skilled professional home healthcare, and for having a coordinator between the hospital staff and home caregivers, AtlantiCare Healthcare at Home offers discharged patients every kind of help so they heal better and faster.

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