Looking out for a loved one or individual with cognitive decline can be rewarding, if not mentally and physically demanding all at the same time.
Sadly, fatigue, burnout and low morale are not uncommon among the army of family caregivers. The job is demanding and takes a toll on all aspects of life. Unfortunately, for many families, this kind of burnout can be damaging to everyone involved.
That’s why I say that caregivers need care, too.
And with the proper care, family support and guidance from professionals, caregivers can avoid burnout. As a result, they can also maintain emotional stability so they can continue to carry out the high-quality care their loved ones deserve.
Caregivers do not need to be newbies to experience periods of sadness and frustration. It’s a common and normal human response to a challenging situation. And by no means are these feelings indicators of failure and subpar performance. If anything, they are signs that the caregiver has a large stake in ensuring quality care and is doing everything they can to succeed.
Nevertheless, caregiver guilt and anxiety can creep in at any moment, sucking the air out of the room. It can be demoralizing to feel these things even though the caregiver’s heart is fully involved and full of resolve. This is the moment when they just must breathe.
Unfortunately, these are just some of the common telltale signs of burnout every caregiver must watch out for. Medical, physical, psychological and social symptoms will impact the lives of caregivers at every hour of the day. A lot of family caregivers suffer from a form a depression. At any given moment, they may feel trapped and full of despair.
No one should live life that way.
The first step is understanding the feelings, then addressing them with the support from the community and mental health professionals.
Caregivers should carve out time to speak with someone about how they feel through the course of administering care. This conversation must be candid and there should never be fear of judgement.
If you’re in this situation, it’s important to work with someone with whom you confide in. Doing so can release you from feeling powerless and trapped. Before long, and with regular emotional support, the negative byproducts of emotional and physical distress will begin to melt away. Burnout and fatigue will also be less recurring and less severe.
Caregivers can turn to emotional support from professional therapists. But private chats with family and friends must not be undervalued. Again, it takes a community. Within your community, you will not feel alone and can learn new problem-solving techniques to tackle some of the trickier aspects of caregiving.
Counseling through a professional organization is another tactic. Caregivers can speak to their health insurance for a list of providers and to connect with other resources.
Another important tool is becoming Dementia Aware through my Family Dementia Care Counseling sessions. Together, we will navigate the common difficulties of providing care and learn about how to best manage symptoms and behavior. Through this awareness, you’ll be able to better connect and experience meaningful moments that give rise to joy instead of frustration.
In this short but effective consultation, you can also learn generally about dementia, tips for reducing caregiver stress, suggestions on how to modify the home environment, information on how to keep your loved one engaged and so much more.
I know how important this journey is to you and your family. The devotion and patience you exhibit each day is worthy of the highest praise. But I also know that there’s always something new to learn. That’s why I focus on compassionate advice that lets you overcome the pitfalls so you can maintain powerful relationships with the person in your loving care.