Being a caregiver for a loved one is a taxing job. It’s difficult to think about how our bodies and minds change as we age. Illness, injury, and mental health concerns can pose serious and potentially life-threatening challenges. Caregiving can become more than one person can handle. Even caregivers who manage to keep up run the risk of experiencing burnout.
What do you do if you feel like caregiving has become too much? How do you know when it’s time to ask for help? And how do you explain to the rest of the family that you can’t do it anymore?
Are You Experiencing Caregiver Burnout?
The word “burnout” is usually used to describe what happens when caregiving becomes too overwhelming. Taking care of an aging parent or other loved one can be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. You have an opportunity to remain close to that person during their senior years.
Unfortunately, its not just about quality time. It’s about making sure that a vulnerable aging person is safe, clean, comfortable, and happy. Achieving those objectives becomes harder as their medical and mental health needs increase. As a caregiver struggles to maintain a high quality of life for their loved one, their own health may begin to suffer.
Caregiving can be a long process. In some cases, it can span years or even decades. Understandably, a caregiver may eventually need to step back and get professional assistance.
Even though it makes sense, the transition can be emotionally difficult, pushing some caregivers to try to keep going despite elevated stress. Common signs of caregiver burnout include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor sleep quality or insomnia
- New health problems or worsening conditions
- Feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Feelings of resentment
- Feeling exhausted or drained
- Skipping hobbies or leisure activities
- Increase in eating, drinking, or smoking
- Unexplained overreactions to minor issues
- Inability to keep up with responsibilities
- Inability to relax even during downtime
Caregivers who experience burnout can begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and exhausted. They may also unknowingly turn their frustrations toward the person that they care for, showing irritability or impatience.
The caregiver’s wellbeing is also threatened by burnout. They often must neglect their own needs to keep up. Stress like this can weaken the immune system, making the caregiver more susceptible to illnesses, like the common cold or flu.
Finding Balance as a Caregiver
Caregiver burnout is dangerous for you and your loved one. It’s important to find balance, even as their needs and dependence increase. There are a few ways to do this. Earlier on, you may be able to enlist the help of other family members to divide the workload.
For some people, this eventually isn’t enough. They may need a place that can provide 24-hour care and security. Dementia can make a patient wander or become combative. Some health conditions are complex and may require care that is beyond the expertise of someone who isn’t a medical professional.
You should ask yourself if the current situation poses a risk to the caregiver or the senior’s life and wellbeing? If the answer is yes, then it is time to find professional services.
An assisted living community can reduce the stress of caregiving and provide your loved one with a higher quality of life. A qualified facility will have staff on hand that can handle day-to-day tasks like cleaning, cooking, and medication management.
Communities like Central Scottsdale Assisted Living supply local in-house care that includes mobile labs, podiatrist, and x-rays as well as access to primary care physicians and home health agencies. Our facility also provides daily exercise routines and beautician and barber services so that your loved one gets more than just basic medical support.
No one person should feel solely responsible for the ever-growing care needs of another. Assisted living facilities can provide an empowering solution that allows seniors to live as independently and comfortably as possible. Caregivers can take their lives back knowing that their loved one is in good hands.
Having the Assisted Living Discussion with Family
Speaking to family members about the decision to move a senior relative into assisted living isn’t always easy. In a perfect world, everyone would understand and be supportive. The reality is that their reactions may be negative.
Some family members may worry that a change means they will have to become more active in the care of a loved one. Others may face other changes as result or simply may not like the idea of moving mom or dad into assisted living.
Each family has a unique dynamic, which means there is no one-size-fits-all approach that avoids all conflict. However, there are a few methods you can use to help make the situation easier.
Think About the Impact on Others
Before you say anything to family about assisted living, consider how this will impact others. What will their concerns be? Will a family member have to find a new place to live? Will someone think that they will have to take over for you? Are there fears that mom or dad will end up in a bad place?
Considering these effects and the reaction they may get will help you prepare for the initial discussion. To help keep things in perspective, you should focus on your aging loved one when you bring it up. Frame it as making sure that your senior has the most important things they need from now until the end of their life.
Use Compassion Rather Than Demands
You may have put in a lot of time and energy caring for a senior. You may feel justified in making demands, especially in situations where other family members don’t step up and help. However, coming in with demands isn’t constructive. It is a good way to trigger an aggressive negative reaction.
Instead, use compassion and explain that a change must be made. Use inclusive language like “I could use your help figuring out what to do next,” “Do you have any ideas?” or sharing your opinion with “Here are my thoughts.”
If there is pushback, do your best to remain calm and explain that you have done the best you can, and you have reached a point where you need help.
Explain It as a Different Way Provide Care
Don’t look the move as shirking your duties as a caregiver. You are still providing care but doing it in a different way. You are still ensuring that your loved one has all they need. You are finding a way to do it so that neither of you is neglected or stressed.
A qualified facility will have the staff, equipment, and infrastructure to monitor and care for an elderly person. In most cases, they are even better equipped to handle these demands compared to someone without training doing it at home.
Accept That What You’re Feeling is OK
Self-care is very important during this time. You may experience negative feelings that may worsen if there is family conflict. Be kind to yourself and understand that it’s ok to feel this way. You are not alone. Many others have been there before. You may consider joining a caregiver support group or speak to a therapist while coping with the changes and challenges.
Learn More About Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities are available with many amenities. These places are designed to feel like home and come with the added security and services your loved one needs. If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, now is the time to learn more about senior facilities. Visit CSAssistedLiving.com to explore our services and see our luxurious accommodations.