What is Caregiver Burnout? Whether you are a home healthcare aide or a family member caring for someone who is unable to live completely unassisted, you are technically on duty 24/7. There’s no getting away from the worry, even though you know you can’t be there all day and night every day of the week. They may be living alone and you may be returning to your own home every night, but that doesn’t mean the ‘job’ ends there.
It is especially difficult for friends and family members to ‘turn it off’ when leaving for their own homes, and this is where so many caregivers begin suffering burnout and depression. It’s a sad reality, but it happens altogether too often. As cliché as it might sound, you are no good to those you are caring for if you don’t take care of yourself. Here are three essential tips to help you prevent burnout so that you can be there when needed.
3 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
1. Take Time for Yourself
While home healthcare workers ‘think’ they are taking time away, the reality is that they never completely leave their patients at home unattended. They worry all the time about what might happen with no one there to see; simple things like assisting them in and out of a chair or perhaps making it safely to the bathroom. Your mind goes 24/7, and it seems like the most mundane things trigger the worry all over again. It is imperative that you find a way to take time for yourself so that you can set these worries aside.
There is nothing that leads to depression faster than constant stress, so it is vital that you find a way to ensure your ‘patient’ is safe so that you can leave all the worry behind. Whether it’s a weekend at the beach or simply an evening at the movies, you must find a way to take time to do the things you love without worrying about how your patient is faring. This is the first step in preventing burnout which often leads to depression.
2. Set up a Support System – For YOU That Is!
You are the support system for that person who is either aging or chronically ill, but who is your support system?
Do you have loved ones you can turn to when your burdens get heavy? Do you have someone you can talk to about your concerns and feelings? If not, there are support groups for caregivers in just about every community around the nation, so find one and attend regular meetings. You might be surprised to learn just how many other caregivers out there suffer the same burnout that you are experiencing and who knows, you might even be able to help each other out between meetings! Setting up a call network really does help.
3. Providing Assistance During Your Absence
Finally, if you can’t get another aide in the home, or there is no family member to be there in your absence, have you considered a medical alert system that can easily call up help if the need should arise? These can be worn and it only takes a push of the button to summon emergency responders and alert you as well as the contact person. Check out wearables like Bay Alarm’s medical alert device and you will see that there is assistance in your absence, even if it’s a device and not a person!
There is no way to express just how serious caregiver burnout can be if you don’t make some changes in your lifestyle. While it’s much more challenging for a family member who is tasked with 24/7 care of a loved one, professional aides suffer burnout and depression as well. This is one profession you simply can’t leave at work. Take care of yourself and you’ll find your job just got that much easier.