“Put on your own oxygen mask first” is advice that applies to more than just airplane emergency procedures. Being a caregiver for a senior loved one is important work and helps to improve their quality of life, as well as offering you more opportunities to spend time and bond with them. However, being a caregiver is hard work, and it can be easy to experience burnout if you’re not caring for yourself in the meantime.
Caregiver burnout is often met with guilt. After all, someone else has it worse and is depending on you. But that doesn’t mean your feelings and energy aren’t important. Caregiver burnout can happen to anyone. Here are a few ways to handle it:
Ask For Help
Your life doesn’t stop simply because you have to care for someone else. Maybe you’re feeling burned out because the demands of your own life and your caregiving duties are in conflict. Your child has started to play soccer and you have to pick them up from school on the same day that you typically go grocery shopping for your elderly parent. Your new job has a different schedule, which means you’re no longer free to drive your neighbor to their doctor’s appointment on Fridays. In these cases, you may need to ask someone else to help share the caregiving duties with you in order to ensure your loved one’s needs are met, as well as your own.
Learn To Accept What You Can’t Change
Another reason for caregiver burnout is a feeling of hopelessness. It’s hard to see a loved one hurting or ill, and caregivers have the urge to try to make everything better. While you might be able to make your loved one’s life much easier, there are some things you simply can’t change. Dwelling on those things can make a loving caregiver feel like a failure, but the truth is you can only control so much. Learn to accept what you can’t and to focus on ways that you can help.
Look at the Positives
One way to accept those things that you can’t change and not give into helplessness is to focus on the positives. This is an opportunity to thank your loved one for everything they’ve done for you, whether a parent, a favorite aunt, or a kind neighbor. You can spend time with them, get to know them better, and make sure they know that they’re loved. Consider playing their favorite games with them or bonding over your shared interests. Make sure there’s lightness in your caregiving, in addition to the more serious duties.
Even a caregiver needs support in order to ensure they’re at their best and best able to care for their loved ones. That’s why CJ & Associates Care Consulting can help with developing a plan of care and offering home health services to assist in the care you already offer. Contact us today to learn more or to get started with us.