5 Tips to Survive Caregiver Burnout
My parents cared for many loved ones over the years. When I was early in my career as a physician my parents had a conference to attend out of state but they were caring for a family member full time. Our family member went to adult daycare during the week which helped and my parents had hired a woman to help when needed, but she charged hourly and while this was a good short-term solution, it was too costly to hire her for multiple days at a time.
Knowing this, I decided to fly home to take care of our family member so my parents could go to their conference. I didn't expect it would be easy, but I didn't expect it to be as tough as it was. Our family member had dementia and between nighttime awakenings, refusing to bathe, angry outbursts alternating with quiet moments, and multiple runaway attempts (she wanted to "walk home") my parents found me exhausted and overwhelmed when they returned from their conference.
I quickly learned just how tough it can be to be a caregiver. If you are a caregiver, here are some tips that might help:
1) Involve the Doctor
- Physicians can help arrange for social workers, handicap placards, and medical equipment such as commodes, hospital beds, wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, etc).
- We can also help advise on transportation services and geriatric or special needs resources.
- Telemedicine is an option for many doctors. If, at times, it's most convenient for your loved one to do a telemedicine appt rather than going into the office ask their physician about this.
2) Utilize Support Groups
- Support groups are an important way for caregivers to avoid burnout
- Research online and in-person support groups. Also, ask your physician about resources they may be aware of.
3) Consider Day Care Services
- Adult daycare centers can be an excellent way for your loved one to get socialization and spend time in an environment other than the home. It can also be an opportunity for you to be able to rest and attend to your own self-care.
- Also consider respite care. Respite care provides short-term relief for caregivers. This relief can be provided for days to weeks and can be a great option for many caregivers to take a vacation, etc.
4) Use Resources
- Here are some resources you might want to check out:
National Family Caregivers Association
5) Give Yourself a Hug
Be gentle with yourself. Don't be hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself and know that you are doing the best with what you have. Practice self-care and hang in there, you can do this.
Comment below with your favorite caregiver resources and feel free to leave tips as this will likely help someone else.
Love, Dr. Jen
Dr. Jen Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician, Associate Professor at Rowan University, tv health expert, and video creator. Sign up to receive Dr. Jen's Daily Health Tips to get daily emails (Mon-Fri) with health information you can use to live a healthier life. Follow her on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.