Caring for a loved one can be physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting. The word I have used to describe how I’ve felt in the past is depleted — nothing left to give. Some refer to it as caregiver burnout.
Have you ever felt like this? If so, you are certainly not alone. It’s so very common. Here are a few symptoms to let you know if you are experiencing caregiver burnout.
Overreacting to minor nuisances
Feeling constantly exhausted
Losing interest in work
Decrease in productivity at work
Withdrawing from social contacts
Increasing use of alcohol or stimulants
Change in eating patterns
Change in sleeping patterns
Increasing use of medications for sleeplessness, anxiety or depression
Inability to relax
Feeling increasingly resentful
Being short-tempered with care recipient frequently
Do you see yourself in the above? If so, perhaps it’s time to take a step back, or perhaps to take a real time-out.
How, you say? If you don’t have family or friends who can step in, there are many support services to help you do this. Many assisted living facilities offer respite, a short-term stay. There are also many adult day care centers in our area, and we have many companion/sitter agencies. Perhaps you qualify for Aging True — they have a team of volunteers who can sit with your loved one occasionally.
Whatever it takes, take a break so you can rest, do something for yourself, renew your perspective and refresh. It’s essential. I like the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
I am the primary caregiver for both of my parents and work full-time, leading caregiving initiatives! I keep these eight things in mind to help me: sunshine, fresh air, exercise, prayer, water, diet, rest and laughter. Do they resonate with you? They are simple but make a big difference. So does having fun with friends! Don’t forget that.
I hope these help you. As always, thank you for caring.
Director of Community Programs
Community Hospice of Northeast Florida