You love your parents. If you didn’t, putting in the effort to be their caregiver wouldn’t be a thing. But it is a thing, and it’s a very big thing to be the caregiver for your parents.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to protect yourself from caregiver burnout. Sure, caregiving is going to be stressful and sometimes just plain hard both emotionally and physically. But you can be a wonderful caregiver for your aging parents without losing your cool, or your mind for that matter, and still protect your relationship with those who raised you.
How? Preparing ahead of time for a potential burnout is key. Here are some helpful tips to protect yourself, and by extension your parents, from burning out as their caregiver:
1. Get Organized
Have a calendar that will remind you what needs to be taken care of and when. Make sure that you are aware of where all the important documents are, including their financial paperwork and their advance directive. Have a way to send out mass communication so you don’t have to individually respond to every single “How’s your mom recovering from her surgery?” inquiry. Sit down with your parents to talk about their needs and how best you can help them. You can better divvy out responsibilities to siblings and hired help if you are aware of all the needs. You’ll avoid being the only person they call for help, you’ll limit surprise issues, and you’ll set your mind at ease through organization.
2. Find Support
No caregiver can do the job alone. Even if you’re the only family member who can do the physical helping, you need a support system to lean on. Whether that be a support group, close friends, or a counselor, or all of the above, make it a priority to find the help you need to keep being the best caregiver you can be.
3. Seek Help
In many cases, you’re simply taking on too much and need to hand off some of the responsibility. Consider hiring a geriatric care manager who can be that second (or third or fourth) caregiver for your parents while helping you handle complicated paperwork and difficult decisions. You may need to find in-home care for your parents or even consider setting them up in an assisted living community. If you’re not sure what kind of help you need, let us figure it out with you.
4. Take a Break
Whether or not your parents are thrilled with the idea of you dropping off the grid for a bit, it’s absolutely necessary. Take a much deserved vacation, or simply hand off your responsibilities for a short time. It’s important that you take a break on a regular basis and do it before you reach burnout point. Studies show that full time caregiving has a major impact on the caregiver’s mental health and can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, caregiving has been found to cause premature death, sometimes even before the patient being cared for passes away. Take a break and take it often!
5. Care for Yourself
Knowing the toll that caregiving can take on you, make sure to take care of yourself. Feed yourself well. Exercise regularly. Prioritize sleep. Go to your own doctor appointments and, as I mentioned, find any and all necessary help. Some of the same studies mentioned above show that the caregiver is often in worse health than those they’re caring for. Be prepared for that possibility by taking care of your own health.
6. Remember Your Purpose
Why are you taking care of your aging parents? Because you love them, of course! And because you take pride in the responsibility of caring for and loving them well. You want the very best for them. Whatever your reasons for being the main caregiver for your parents, continually refresh your mind with those reasons. Don’t lose sight of why you do what you do.
7. Contact Turning Point
You have questions and we have answers. Let us be a part of protecting you from caregiver burnout by helping you through making the next step choices for your parents. We can do the research for you, make the contacts for you, and walk alongside you as you walk alongside your parents. We know that it’s your desire to do what’s best for your parents, that’s why it’s our passion to help you guide mom and dad through their turning point. Contact us today!