If you’re a daughter or son, sibling, parent, spouse, or even a friend, some day you may find yourself in the role of “family caregiver.” Caregiving is the act of providing unpaid assistance and support to family members or acquaintances that have physical, psychological, or developmental needs.
At first most caregivers accept their new role with a sense of idealism, hope, and eagerness to do well. As time goes on fatigue may set in, disappointments and frustrations can and do occur. Caregiver burnout can be a sense of being completely overwhelmed and unrewarded. Feeling “burned out” can be dangerous to both you and your loved one. Feeling stressed over long periods of time WILL affect your health, motivation, attitude, and mood, as well as your ability to cope with your daily responsibilities.
Sometimes it’s too late to prevent burnout – you’re already past the breaking point. If that’s the case, it’s important to take your burnout very seriously. Trying to push through the exhaustion and continue as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. Here are some suggestions to combat the caregiver burnout you may be experiencing:
- Learn about helpful resources in the community – contact Vanderbilt Family Center at 615-936-1990 for information concerning various elder care options.
- Take care of yourself – get enough rest, eat well, and exercise as often as possible.
- Involve others – actively look for ways to involve other family members, friends, and neighbors. This is not a sign of failure or weakness.
When you are a caregiver, finding time to take care of yourself seems impossible, but you owe it to yourself to find time. Without it, you may not have the physical or mental strength to deal with the stress you experience as a caregiver. Remember, you must take care of yourself before you can help take care of others.