By Dana Sanders
When providing care to aging or disabled parents, many caregivers ignore the most important person involved in the caregiving process. "Who?" - you may ask? The answer might surprise you: The Caregiver.
Many times caregivers get so wrapped up in attending to parent’s needs, trying to fit quality time with their own family into their schedule, and oftentimes attempting to balance a career, they forget or simply neglect to take some time for their own personal needs.
As a caregiver, the results of not allocating personal time can easily lead to intense emotions such as stress, anxiety, frustration, guilt, and feeling extremely overwhelmed. Many caregivers fail to realize that these emotions and feelings could lead to caregiver burnout.
If you have just taken the reins as a caregiver to your parent, or perhaps you have been serving in the role for years, you may have never heard of the term “caregiver burnout” or would even recognize the early warning signs. And you may not be aware that caregivers have an increased risk for depression, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Caregiver burnout is the unpleasant side effects many adult children have to cope with when providing care to their aging or disabled parents. The signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout may display themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The most important thing to remember as a caregiver, and to avoid burnout, is to make some time for yourself. Whether it is treating yourself to a shopping trip, preparing your favorite meal, or going on a vacation getaway for the weekend with your own family, remember you should not feel guilty for putting your own wants and needs first.
The second thing to remember as a caregiver is never hesitate or feel embarrassed to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a sibling or another family member for assistance. You may also consider adult day care, or respite care to provide you some relief.
Even if you just need a day away from your role as caregiver, don’t let your guilty conscience persuade you otherwise. It would be better to enjoy a day of rest and relaxation to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul before letting yourself fall into the ruts of burnout.
There are proven and effective methods to combat and prevent caregiver burnout. These techniques are easy and simple daily activities. Anyone can practice these burnout-relieving techniques, whether it’s taking an early morning jog or writing in a journal before bed.
You will find yourself amazed at how taking less than an hour a day can alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes along with providing care to an aging or disabled parent, especially those with rapidly deteriorating health or suffering from the heart-wrenching effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition of ways to prevent caregiver burnout, there are also many helpful resources available to guide you through the confusing emotions and physically exhausting situations you may find yourself in as a caregiver. If you feel you may already be experiencing burnout, talk to someone, whether it’s your spouse, friend, or physician.
Dana Sanders is the author of "Becoming Your Parent's Caregiver", an ebook written out of her own experience and that provides advice for the children of an aging or disabled parent. Please visit http://www.caregivingaparent.com for information to help you care for your parent.