As my career has advanced I have found my own little niches that I am drawn to, "caring for the caregiver" is one. For those that are caregivers to their parents, children, spouse, or siblings, it is often the caring for their own self that is forgotten. Caring for themselves is one of the most important, one of the most often forgotten things they can do as a caregiver. In fact, when their needs are taken care of, the person they are caring for will benefit too. I would like to take the time to share a few tips, signs of burnout, and services available to caregivers.
Many times, attitudes and beliefs form personal barriers that stand in the way of caring for yourself.
Identifying personal barriers:
• Do you think you are being selfish if you put your needs first?
• Is it frightening to think of your own needs? What is the fear about?
• Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help?
• Do you feel you have to prove that you are worthy of the care recipient's affection? Do you do too much as a result?
Identifying signs of burnout:
• Physical :
Feeling tired most of the day
Feeling sick a lot
Change in appetite or sleep
Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
Sense of failure or self-doubt
Feeling helpless, trapped
Loss of motivation
Having a negative outlook
Withdrawing and isolating
Using food or alcohol to cope
Taking frustrations out of others
Recharging your batteries is something you do not want to overlook
REST. Without, you are at risk for burnout
EAT RIGHT. Well balanced diets keep you healthy and increase your energy
COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS TO OTHERS. Do not expect others to read your mind. Let those around you know how they can help
HYDRATE. Water hydrates your body and keeps you energized. Take vitamins if you don’t get enough nutrition from your food.
ACCEPT HELP. This can be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your loved one and for yourself. When people offer to help, often caregivers turn them down because they don’t want to burden them. When you have a moment really think about what kind of help you need. Then you will be ready to accept the next offer!
RESPITE. Make a point of getting away for a mini-respite. Whether it be a movie, a walk, or lunch out ; something to help you come back with a new perspective!
GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Sleep is one of the best things you could do for yourself. Eight hours is ideal, but if it is interrupted a short nap can be very refreshing
EXERCISE. Even a small amount in your daily routine can do wonders—it can improve your sleep, reduce stress and negative emotions, relax muscular tension, and increase your mental alertness and energy levels.
Caregiver Support Services
• Family members or friends who will listen without judgment
• Your church, temple, or other place of worship
• Caregiver support groups at a local hospital or online
• A therapist, social worker, or counselor
• Organizations specific to your family member’s illness or disability
• The Palliative care team
Groups: Caregiver Discussion
Home & Family: Caregiving
Online support groups
The National Caregiver Support Line:
Mon - Fri 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sat 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
As you read through and explore support services, hover over the headings for additional links.