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6 Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout: Is it Time to Ask for Help?

Senior woman with her caregiver at home

For months, or maybe years now, you’ve served as the primary caregiver for an elderly or sick loved one. But at some point, you begin to notice signs of caregiver burnout: You’re stressed, depressed, lonely, or even getting sick yourself. It’s time to take the right steps toward taking care of yourself, so that you can stay healthy and continue to care for your relative.

Don’t quit your job. Your job provides you with the income you need, a sense of purpose, and even a social outlet. The long term consequences of quitting your job can be devastating, to both your emotional state as well as your finances. Ask for help, either by hiring a fill-in caregiver or communicating with your boss about your need for flex time, before taking such a drastic step. If you’ve already stopped working, consider options that will allow you to return to the workplace.

Join a support network. Find a local support group for people in your situation, and attend meetings regularly. If you can’t find such a group, or the meetings are too inconvenient, an online support group can also fill this role.

Try a form of mass communication. Your caregiving duties are numerous, and you need to reduce extra “busy work” when you can. Repeating the same news over and over again is exhausting and time consuming. Ask family and friends to join a private Facebook group where you can post news once, or use a site like CaringBridge to share updates. It’s great that everyone wants to know how the latest surgery or treatment went, but there is no need to keep you on the phone for hours each time a new development occurs.

Don’t give up your interests. You have your own needs, and no one expects you to neglect them. Continue any hobbies you enjoy, keep exercising, attend your church groups, have coffee with a friend… If something is a part of your regular routine, continue it. In fact, you might even need to add a fun, distracting activity to your schedule. It can help you reduce stress and stay socially connected.

Take care of your own health. You’re probably sick of doctor appointments, but you still have to attend your own. See your physician for regular checkups, make healthful food choices, go for a walk each day, and resist the temptation to soothe your nerves with alcohol or cigarettes. You need to stay healthy now, more than ever.

Enlist help. As you can see, you need to pursue some activities outside of the home, in order to take care of yourself and avoid burnout. Usually, this means you need to hire a caregiver to substitute for you. Contact us for additional resources, so that you can get the backup help you need.

As a trusted member of the community, Hospice of the Valleys has been providing hospice care to the Inland Valley and Fallbrook for over 34 years. Please call us for senior community resources, or for information about hospice care. We’re here to help.  951-200-7800

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