Being a caregiver to an elderly individual (be it a family member or someone unrelated) can be a strenuous and thankless job. Caregiving involves many physical, mental, and emotional aspects and can be equally draining in all of these facets. For these reasons, caregivers should be taking preventative steps to help decrease the risk of burnout. Here are 6 ways to help prevent caregiver burnout:
1. Support Groups.
There are many support groups available for those who are a caregiver (for a family member or an unrelated individual). These support groups can even be tailored to the demographics and needs of the caregivers that are involved in them. Support groups can be offered in person, online and even via telephone for easy access! Check out the Family Caregiver Alliance website for specific resources at https://www.caregiver.org/.
Engaging in and being mindful of self-care for oneself is another important way to prevent caregiver burnout. Self-care can mean any activity that promotes your own well-being and makes you feel good. This could be getting a massage/facial, taking time to exercise, allowing yourself to take a nap or sleep longer, taking a bubble bath (to name a few). As a caregiver, so much of your time is spent caring for another that it is important to continue to reflect and take note of/involve yourself in activities that are meaningful to you and make you feel good.
3. Ask for help when needed.
Being a caregiver can be draining in many aspects: physically, emotionally, mentally etc. This is why it is important to ask for help when you feel like it is becoming too much and you are unable to provide quality care and continue to take care of yourself appropriately at the same time. Help can come from another family member, a friend, or even a provider of caregiving services. Many long term care insurance providers offer respite hours or caregiving services on different levels, as needed. Check out https://npfba.org/ for specific benefit plans.
4. Eat right.
While this could be considered part of “self-care”, it is important to nourish your body with healthy foods and nutrients to make sure that you have sufficient energy to provide care for another individual. Similar to the saying “fill your cup first”, this is an important preventative measure for caregivers to take.
5. Sleep well and enough.
Getting good, restful sleep is also an important habit for caregivers to get into. Again, with “filling your cup first” you are able to be in a better mood, clear-headed and energetic to provide the best care for another individual. In order to improve sleep patterns and get good quality sleep, keep your bedtime routine consistent, try winding down with a book (instead of phones or tablets, as the blue light can negatively affect sleep patterns), take a warm bath, use lavender oil, or utilize a combination of techniques to improve your sleep. Aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
6. Utilize long-term care options as needed.
There are many options when it comes to long-term care insurance plans and many offer different levels of support. If you are still interested in remaining a caregiver for your family member/loved one but are unable to provide the full-time care that they need, most long-term insurance plans offer options for respite care, in home nursing care etc at varying support levels (hours per day or days per week). Visit https://npfba.org/ to explore options for additional support.
Taking care of yourself and filling your cup first is one of the most helpful strategies to prevent caregiver burnout. Make sure to look into resources to care for yourself while you are caring for someone else!