How to De-Stress from Giving Care

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,257
    Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, provides some tips on avoiding caregiver burnout. In this video, she will show you ways to unwind and cope.

    Mary Alexander: Hi I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. And today I'm talking about avoiding caregiver burnout. And in this video I'm going to give you ways to unwind and cope. Most family caregiver struggle to balance care-giving for an aging parent or relative with other major responsibilities including jobs and caring for young children. This often means that there is little time to care for themselves which can result in poor health and high levels of stress. However, if you don't take care of yourself you will never be able to continue taking care of your loved one. This means eating right, getting adequate rest, building exercise into your schedule and keeping up with your medical appointments. Let's talk about some of these in specifics. Workout, exercise at something you like to do. Walking, dancing, biking, running, swimming for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times a week. Consider learning a stress management exercise such as Yoga or Ti Chi which teach in a balance and relaxation. Meditate, sit still and breadth deeply with your mind as quiet as possible whenever things feel like they are moving too quickly or you are feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a family caregiver. Many times you will feel like you don't even have a minute to yourself, but its important to walk away and to take that minute. Ask for help. According to a national survey conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care Network, 72% of adults who are currently providing care for an aging loved one do it without any outside help. To avoid burnout and stress, you need to enlist the help of other family members, friends and consider hiring a professional caregiver for assistance without feeling bad or guilty for reaching out. Asking for help is sometimes difficult but there are four sure-fire ways to enlist support. First, give each person a responsibility, even if it's small to help spread out the tasks. Even if your sibling lives a thousand miles away, make it his or her responsibility to call your elderly parent once a week to check in or to visit one week or two weeks a year so you can take your own family on vacation. Second, divide up the tasks. Have a specific family member who handles the medical aspect of your relative's care, such as talking with doctors and medication information. While another may be responsible for groceries and meals and another handles paying the bills. By dividing up the tasks, each person becomes more involved with the details of these tasks and can keep each other abreast of changes, issues, and problems. Third, make sure to converse with other family members about your elderly relative. If you don't express your concerns, such as their debilitating health or amount of time you are spending caring for them, you can't expect other family members to know what you are thinking and feeling.

    And fourth, don't be a control freak. If you want to control every aspect of the care, other family members maybe less help to step in. Thinking you have it all under control. Don't be less able to understand your stress level. If they believe you are creating it yourself. The next thing you can do for yourself is to take a break. Make arrangements for any necessary fill-in help that includes family, friends, volunteers or professional caregivers. Take single day's or even a week's vacation. Just make sure you line up your support system so you can be confident that your loved one is safe and happy. And when you're away, stay away. Talk about different things. Read that book you haven't been able to get to. There is no excuse not to. One of the ways to take a break is to arrange for respite care which is short term, temporary care provided to someone who needs assistance so that a family caregiver can take a break from the daily routine and challenges of caring for an aging adult. Respite services may sometimes involve over-night care for an extended period of time or just a few hours per day. Respite is often referred to as the gift of time. While respite care may require some financial outlay, it must be weighed as an option to support the mental stability and health of the family caregiver. Even using just a couple of hours of service such as errands and shopping can lessen the burden of care-giving considerably. Agencies that provide information and respite services are Hospice Care, Home Health Agencies, In-Home Senior Care Agencies, Social Services, Private Nursing Companies, Senior Centers, Churches, or the National Family Caregivers Association. Another way to help ease your stress as a family caregiver is to make sure you eat well. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins including nuts ad beans and whole grains. Indulging in caffeine, fast food, and sugar as quick pick me ups also produce a quick let down. Take care of yourself. Just like you make sure your loved one gets to the doctor regularly, make sure you get your annual checkup. Being a family caregiver provides many excuses for skipping your necessary checkups, but don't do it. Indulge, treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to take yourself away from the situation and to reward yourself for the wonderful care you are providing to your aging relative. You shouldn't feel guilty about wanting to feel good. Support, find a local caregiver support group that will help you understand that what you are feeling and experiencing is normal for someone in your position. This is a place to get practical advice from people who are in your situation and to bounce off those feelings of stress since everyone is likely to be in the same situation and can empathize. In the end, remember to maintain your sense of humor. Know that it is okay to say no to another responsibility and never feel guilty about needing to take time for yourself. Your health and well-being is of the utmost importance. And taking care of yourself will allow you to be there for your senior loved one.