Caring for a loved one can be very rewarding. However, the stress involved can harm your health, wellbeing and relationships. It is important to get the help and support you need whether this is from family members, social services or using senior respite care.
Caring for a loved one takes enormous resources of time, energy and emotional stress. If the demands are too much, for too long, this can lead to burnout – a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. If you experience symptoms of burnout this is not good for you or those around you. So, for everyone’s benefit, it is important to know when to get help.
Symptoms of burnout
Here are some of the common symptoms of burnout
- Constant anxiety
- Feeling irritable and resentful
- Feeling exhausted all the time
- Difficulty sleeping and relaxing
- Health problems
- Feeling that your life revolves around caregiving, but gives you little satisfaction
- Feeling hopeless
If you are experiencing these, or any other emotional or physical issues, it is important to take action both for yourself and the person you are caring for.
Here are some ways to cope with the stress of being a caregiver.
Let go of perfection
We of course want to be perfect in our role as caregivers. However, sometimes we need to let go of doing everything perfectly and accept good enough. If everyone is safe, warm and fed – that’s a good day!
Often it can be difficult to accept help even when it is offered. This may be because we feel it will burden others, or we don’t think they will be able to help effectively. We know how to do everything, so sometimes it seems easier to just do it ourselves.
However, this is a recipe for burnout. It’s important to learn to accept help and delegate tasks. We may have to lower our standards a little and let others get on with the job. Accept that you can’t control every tiny detail. People will be less likely to help if you insist on them doing things your way.
Ask for help
If no one offers to help, then you need to ask for it. There is no reason why this responsibility should be yours alone. Often, we find it hard to ask for help from others as we feel we are burdening them or admitting failure. But what matters is that your loved one is healthy and happy and that you have a decent quality of life, too. If this means asking for help – so be it!
As well as other family members you can ask for help from friends, social services, or other local caregiving services. You do not have to do this alone.
Prepare a list of tasks others could take care of, such as food shopping, driving your loved one to an appointment or taking care of some household chores. A lot of joy comes from giving – so let others feel good about supporting you.
Take care of yourself
It may seem difficult, with all the demands on your time and energy, but it is important to take care of yourself. If you are not eating properly, sleeping well, getting some exercise and taking care of your healthcare appointments, you may become ill yourself and then where will your loved one be!
Powering through even when you are exhausted is often counter-productive. You will achieve less and are more likely to forget something or make a mistake. You will provide the best care if you are well-rested and recharged yourself.
Taking care of your physical and emotional wellbeing is not a luxury, it is essential. You need to make sure someone else is looking after your loved one at some point each week so that you can take care of your own needs. Arrange for a carer to visit or take your loved one to a group so that you can get some time off.
Do something fun
When you spend all your time taking care of others it can feel like you lose yourself completely. It is vital to make time for the things that are important to you. Permit yourself to do things that you enjoy regularly. You will be a better caregiver for it.
Arrange senior respite care
If you are experiencing the symptoms of burnout and struggling to find others to share the load, then consider arranging some respite care.
Respite care can allow you to take a much-needed break from the demands of caregiving. Senior respite care can take place in your loved one’s home so that they can continue with their usual routines in familiar surroundings.
How Mumby’s can help with senior respite care
At Mumby’s live in care, our fully trained carers can provide senior respite care for your loved one. This can give you a chance to restore your energy and find some balance in your life. It can also provide your loved one with some variety and stimulation, too.