Caring for an elderly relative or terminally-ill person can be physically and emotionally demanding. Caregiver burnout is very common due to stress, exhaustion, and negative emotions that can seem overwhelming. In time, burnout can cause its own health problems for the caregiver. Some of the negative consequences of burnout are a loss of motivation, mood swings, and depression.
Although caregivers are at risk of burnout, there are many steps you can take to avoid “burning out.” In this article, you will find out what you can do to prevent burnout if you have to care for someone with a long-term condition.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a condition when a person feels as if they have “no fuel left in the tank” to continue caring.
According to the British Journal of General Practice, burnout can greatly affect how a caregiver feels about the patient and their responsibilities. The symptoms of caregiver burnout can be a lack of empathy, feelings of helplessness, and withdrawal from personal interaction from the patient.
Paradoxically, it is a strong sense of empathy that often leads to burnout when the caregiver is overcome by compassion stress.
Ways Avoid Caregiver Burnout
It is clear that it is essential for caregivers to avoid burnout to care for their own health and for the health of the senior relative or chronically-ill person.
Here are some ways to avoid burnout if you are a caregiver.
1. Remember that your work is valuable
As a caregiver, you are performing extremely important work for the person in your care. Even though the health of the person you are caring for may not be improving, your care is an essential part of their emotional and physical well-being.
2. Ask for help
Even if you are the primary caregiver, you should always be willing to ask for help to avoid burnout. There may be tasks that you can delegate to other family members or ask others for assistance. In many cases, local social services can provide some assistance.
3. Take care of yourself to avoid burnout
It is essential to take some time out to rest, eat well, and exercise. You should never feel guilty about focusing on your own needs as this will help prevent you from burning out. Don’t allow others, even the person in your care, to make you feel guilty about taking a short break.
4. Avoid taking things personally
You also need to avoid taking comments personally, especially if the person in your care is suffering cognitive decline. They may say hurtful things because of their illness and it’s important to remember that it is the illness talking, not the person.
5. Get support
You also need support to continue providing care to a chronically-ill person. Look for support groups in your area and take time to nurture positive relationships with others to help prevent caregiver burnout.
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