Community Blog

Heeding the Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout

By Ketan Shah

“The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

As a family caregiver, you are the gardener in your parent’s life. You sow the seeds of contentment. You water and nurture their sometimes wounded body. You provide the sunshine and stability to a life that has undoubtedly seen much change as the years have accumulated. You watch as they flower and sometimes wither. A gardener’s job is incredibly rewarding. It offers immense beauty, creative expression and sometimes backbreaking work. Eventually, you will need to take some time off to recoup. It will serve them well in the long run and allow them to keep doing what they love. It would be best for you to learn the gardener’s lesson early on in your role as a family caregiver.

The Statistics

According to an article in MEDSURG Nursing, one in three caregivers report feeling depressed. Another report in the Gerontologist states that many caregivers report feeling alone and isolated. Pay close attention to your inner garden as you care for your parent’s and, if any of these signs of caregiver burnout become apparent, do something about it.

  • Extreme roller coaster mood swings. One minute you’re singing along with your favorite musician, the next you’re crying because some water sloshed out of your glass.
  • Fatigue has given way to exhaustion and brain fog, and joie de vivre has taken a backseat under piles of laundry that you’ll get to tomorrow, or maybe the next day.
  • You find yourself coming down with just about every virus that happens to cross your path.
  • You’re easily irritated. Friends and family may be referring to your evil twin.

The Solution

Don’t put dealing with feelings of depression on the back burner in hopes that they will dissipate on their own. Make an appointment with your primary health care provider. Then take stock. Make a list of your daily routine and the tasks that need to be accomplished and delegate. If you’re providing all of your parent’s transportation needs, look into the local volunteer organization that provides transportation for homebound seniors, ask friends, family and community organizations if they can pitch in. You’ll be surprised at how many people are happy to lend a hand.

If you’re preparing all of their meals, look into alternatives such as Meals on Wheels or another food delivery service such as Silver Bistro MD. If your parent’s community has a senior center, check into its many activities and services.

Home Care Provider

The above signs and symptoms are warning signals telling you it’s time to recharge and rejuvenate. Heed them. Obtain the services of a home care provider a few days a week. These professionals not only assist with the everyday activities of living, they also provide transportation, run errands and provide that all-important part of a balanced life—companionship.

Resources
https://www.caring.com/questions/what-are-the-statistics-of-caregiver-stress
http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-12-2011/caregiver-burnout.html

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Palo Alto, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.