Caregiver Burnout

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 29,833
    Anita Brikman from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization discusses signs of caregiver stress and ways to cope with it.

    Anita Brikman: Its no surprise that caring for a sick or dying loved one can take a tremendous emotional and physical toll, its called Caregiver Stress and as our population ages many more people will find themselves faced with a challenge of long-term care giving; from cooking meals, shouldering household duties, to helping somebody make medical decisions and providing daily hands on help, more than 65 million Americans provide this kind of care to someone they love. When you are looking after somebody else at this level it is critical you also take care of yourself. If you dont; exhaustion, health problems, even total burn out are a real risk. So how do you know if youre taking on too much? Watch for these signs of caregiver stress. Feeling tired, overwhelmed or irritable most of the time, sleeping too much or too little, gaining or loosing a significant amount of weight, loosing interest in activities you use to enjoy. Long term care givers are more likely to experience depressions or anxiety; its hard for a person consumed with caring for someone else to get enough physical exercise or eat a balanced diet. That puts your own well being at risk and helps no one. So what can a care given do? Except help; be prepared with a list of specific ways, family and friends can come to your aid like picking up groceries or spending time with your ailing loved one. Respite care can lift the burden temporarily and give you the chance to recharge. Get connected; join a care giver support group for advice from others, facing the similar situations and dont let go of your existing social networks; isolation increase the stress. A support system of friends can be crucial to keeping negative feelings from spiraling out of control and get you out of the house for a much needed break. Also be prepared to seek medical or counseling advice if the emotional toll becomes too heavy to bear. Finally, make a commitment to preserving your personnel health, try not to give in to stress drives urges to over indulge in sweets or alcohol and make sure nutritious meals are on the menu for you too. Sleep is in must, if you have trouble resting at night take naps during the day and carve out time from regular exercise. Putting your health at risk does nothing to help the ailing person you love.