10 ways to avoid caregiver burnout

Extracted from – http://www.secondact.com/2011/10/10-tips-to-avoid-caregiver-burnout/

Tarach-Ritchey offers 10 pointers for caregivers:

1. To avoid burnout, start by doing a self-assessment. Write down commitments that aren’t flexible, such as jobs and tending to children’s needs. Next, list all the necessary tasks that need to be completed to run a household, such as shopping, cleaning, paying bills, and home maintenance. Next, it’s time to schedule some “me” time. Whether that is an hour a day or four hours a week, there must be time to rejuvenate — whether reading time, going to lunch with a friend, getting a massage or just resting in peace and quiet. This is critical to avoid burnout.

2. After completing an assessment, see what time is left over to provide care. In the time available, you’ll need to list the most important things the loved one needs help with — and the things you’re able to do.

3. Make an additional list of family members or friends you can solicit for help. Most people don’t get involved because they haven’t been asked. These people can be asked to help shuttle to doctors’ appointments, drop off meals or do some chores.

4. Sit down with the person needing assistance and have a truthful conversation. It’s preferable to include all the people who will be helping. Discuss what the parent’s true needs are, who can help and when. Also discuss your own commitments.

5. Be firm in what you can commit to, and do not back down. If you’re not able to meet all their needs, it’s time to discuss outside help. Many aging adults do not accept loss of independence and deny the need for help, even when they’re running an adult child ragged. They will refuse outside help by saying they don’t need help. Be understanding but firm.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask parents to contribute to their own care. It’s important not to do things for care recipients that they can do for themselves. What they don’t use they will lose. Involve parents or ailing relatives in tasks as much as possible. If a parent cannot use the stairs to do laundry in the basement but he can gather and separate dirty clothes or fold items out of the dryer, ask him to do that. Parents need to do whatever they are capable of doing, or they will quickly become more dependent.

7. Let go of guilty feelings. No one can “do it all,” despite what we’ve been led to believe. Guilt is a heavy contributor to burnout.

8. Put safety first. This is especially important for those who have parents with dementia, who often want to continue making all the decisions, even when those decisions are no longer appropriate.

9. Don’t take mom’s anger personally. It’s hard not to be overly concerned when a parent gets angry, but it helps to keep in mind that the anger is generally really not about the caregiver — it’s more about the changes the parent is going through and the inability to accept those changes.

10. More than anything, be as aware of your own needs as you are of your parent’s.Your ability to help will decline if you don’t attend to your own health and happiness. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first sometimes.

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