Taking care of our aging loved ones is something that, as adult children, we believe is the compassionate thing to do. After all, they provided the love and care that we needed as children. They made sure we were fed, clothed and educated. They nursed us back to health when we were sick, and made sure we had the guidance and support we needed to become responsible, independent adults. And now that they are aging and need our help, assuming responsibility for their care is something we take on without questioning it.

In spite of your best intentions, caring for a loved one can be a daunting, all-consuming task. And of course, you want to do everything the right way:  managing their meds, offering them meaningful social interaction, keeping them well fed and well dressed, making sure they stay safe, protecting them from elder scams, etc. Over time, however, the stress and anxiety of caring for an aging loved one, particularly if they suffer from a challenging physical and/or mental issue, can begin to take its toll on you, the caregiver.

When Caring Leads To Caregiver Burnout

What exactly is caregiver burnout? According to WebMD, caregiver burnout is “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude – from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able – either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.”

Could You Be Suffering From Caregiver Burnout? Here’s How To Tell:

            •   You withdraw from your friends and other family members

            •  You’re no longer interested in activities you once enjoyed

            •  You either gain or lose weight without trying

            •  Your sleep patterns change

            •  You seem to get sick more often than usual

            •  You may feel like you want to harm yourself or the person you’re caring for

The Key To Preventing Caregiver Burnout? Taking Care Of Yourself!

The best way to provide care for your loved one is to care for yourself – and to ask for help when you need it.

Being a full-time caregiver can quickly become overwhelming. Be realistic about both your loved one’s physical and mental issues (especially if you are managing a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s) and your physical, emotional and financial capabilities. Some situations may simply be beyond your ability to manage.

In the midst of juggling your caregiving duties, it’s important to carve out some time for yourself. Maintaining your social network and getting together with trusted friends, neighbors or co-workers for some “me time” to de-stress and socialize can help you cope with the day-to-day pressures of caregiving. And above all, eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep will help offset the challenges you face every day.  

In Over Your Head? Senior Helpers of the Lehigh Valley Can Help

Some caregiver tasks are simply outside the realm of expertise of most people. That’s when a professional “helping hand” can take the stress and anxiety out of caregiving. Senior Helpers of the Lehigh Valley offers a full range of customizable care options that range from daily companion care (light housekeeping, general errands, transportation and appointments) to specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Ask us how we can help; call us at 610-770-2036 today to speak to a senior care expert.

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