I am so glad this is now an Awareness topic. Caregiving is the hardest job you’ll ever have. It’s frustrating, heartbreaking, nerve-racking, and exhausting. The reward comes in very small bites until they pass on. Looking back at taking care of both of my grandparents before they died, I’m so glad I was there till the end. Those memories are the last ones I have and now I can look back at laugh at the small things.
A survey by AARP in 2010 states that “29% of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31% of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.”
Avoiding Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver stress explodes when the caregiver can’t get much of a break – whether it is emotional or physical, a needed break is what makes it possible for the caregiver to function. The Be Well Bistro Caregiver’s Corner offers strategies to support the caregiver such as:
Tips for avoiding burnout are to know the signs and have a plan in place to combat the burnout. Some signs:
- Anger or annoyance at all kinds of things
- Nagging aches and pains
- Over eating or Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in personal goals
- Loss of joy in doing things once loved
- Wanting to run away
- Enlist family members to pitch in
- Enlist a friend or a few friends
- Create a care group so friends, family, or neighbors can coordinate to give the caregiver some respite
- Think Outsourcing: Make a list of all the chores you don’t want to do. Find a way to bring in help. If your family or friends can’t or won’t help, maybe a local church group, community respite organization. Ask on Facebook if anyone in your community knows someone—or ask a local email group. Think outside the box.
- Find a local support group where you can meet people in person.
- Find a Psychotherapeutic intervention.
Be sure to look for local resources for help.
Being a caregiver changes the dynamic of the relationship and you can expect pushback. My gramps did not accept he was dying until two days before he died. He was a strong proud man and in the beginning, I had to tread lightly while taking over some of his daily tasks.
I have found caregiving the most frustrating and rewarding. I think of all the extra time we spent, time that would not have been spent if he were not dying. Our relationship changed, I became more of the parent and nag.