Providing care for an elderly loved one can be a rewarding experience. Those rewards do not come without stress. In fact, almost half of all family caregivers say they are “somewhat stressed,” and more than a third claim to be “highly stressed,” according to the National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP “Caregiving in the United States 2015” report. For our caregivers out there here are some tips to avoid burnout:
Remember That Your Work Has Value
Don’t forget that what you are doing is worthwhile. According to an AARP Public Policy Institute report, approximately 40 million family caregivers provided 37 billion hours of care for parents, spouses, partners and other adult loved ones worth an estimated $470 billion in 2013. That was up from $450 billion in 2009. When looked at in economic terms that is immense undeniable value.
Learn How to Mass Communicate
Making sure that family are fiends are up-to-date on the health of well being of your loved one. Who wants to get on the phone or send a bunch of emails at the end of long day? There are a number of websites that allow you to send messages to everyone all at once. CaringBridge, PostHope and MyLifeLine are just a few of the sites available.
Find A Support Group
You can find services and support in your area through Eldercare Locator, “a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families.” In addition, CancerCare and the Alzheimer’s Association websites provide information on support groups. If you need help connecting with other caregivers, the Well Spouse Association is another good resource.
Use simple tools like calendars and to-do lists to help you prioritize your responsibilities. With your loved one develop an inventory of where important items are kept. Make sure you know the location of essential documents: Social Security cards, marriage and birth certificates, a will or trust, the deed to the house, and insurance and bank account records. Being organized will give you peace of mind and leave you better prepared for the future..
Maintain The Positive Relationships In Your Life
You may be overwhelmed, but please make time to talk with your closest friends and family. Spend some time with a friend or family member who is a good listener. Limit the negative people in your life who will bring down your mood and perspective. Surround yourself with those people who appreciate you the most and genuinely care about your well-being.
You can’t keep go go go 24/7. We all need a break — even caregivers. Find a friend or relative who can take over for a few hours periodically so that you can have some time to yourself. Maybe you can take a walk, read a book, catch a movie or go out to dinner with friends. Eldercare Locator also can help by offering area-specific recommendations for available services such as home care, meal plans and transportation options. Look into respite care options offered by Platinum Communities.
Remember to Take Care of Your Own Health
Maintain a good sleep routine and exercise a certain number of hours every week. Be sure to eat healthy and drink plenty of water. See your doctor for recommended immunizations and screenings. Let your personal physician know that you are a caregiver, and discuss any concerns you may have. A daily relaxation and meditation practice can also be beneficial.