When A Caregiver Should Ask For Help
by Linda Burhans
It’s a fact that by the time you actually feel thirsty, your hydration is already depleted. Picture the same thing happening with stress. By the time a caregiver is feeling stress, the stress has already taken its toll.
Caregivers are GIVERS; that’s what makes caregivers do what they do. This is a problem when it comes time for a caregiver to ask for help. Caregivers often use up all their inner resources long before asking for assistance. Here is how you as a caregiver may be able to tell when it is time to ask for help.
Recognizing caregiver burnout:
Have you ever been burned out on your job? You hate to go to work, hate the thought of walking through that door, even hate the thought of getting up in the morning. You get disillusioned with the entire process and look for ways to get out.
Most of us have experienced that sort of job burnout at some point in our lives. It requires time to step back from the situation and look at it from another perspective. Or, if left unexamined, it may require intervention to get out of that downward spiral.
Caregiving is no different. If you are the primary caregiver for someone, it means that you are in contact day-in and day-out with that person and the frustrations which that involves. If you have responsibilities outside of caregiving, the stress is multiplied. Here are a few signs that you may be sinking and need a life preserver:
- Feelings of depression
- Feelings of resentment towards your loved one
- Lack of empathy or patience with your loved one
- Lack of sleep
- Too much sleep
- Frequent illness
- Problems on your job
- Gaining or losing weight
These are just a few of the symptoms of caregiver burnout. Any of these symptoms is a cry for help that needs answering. If you become proud and stoically plow through the signs of burnout, you are not doing yourself or the person in your care any favors. You may actually be causing great harm to both of you.
Ways that you can get help:
There are resources at your disposal. Begin by asking other family members to help. Check out adult day care centers, part-time home care, county nursing services, short-term nursing care, adult social services programs, aging commission services, as well as senior drop-in centers and other community-based activities. Any respite break you can get on a regular basis will help your stress level drop, as well as provide a needed break for your loved one, too.
Planning for burnout is the first step to preventing it. Don’t wait until the symptoms become overwhelming. Devise a regularly scheduled stress-reducer for yourself as well as your loved one. Routinely take advantage of outside help. Don’t wait for someone to notice that you are stressed out before you get help. Be proactive, ask for help, and avoid getting burned out. And as I always say, find a support group where you will know that you are not alone!
Linda Burhans is a keynote speaker, best-selling author and caregiver advocate
with Harmony Home Health. To find a support group near you facilitated by Linda, go to our Calendar of Events, Support Groups, and Workshops.