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Caregiver Burnout

At last, summer has arrived. Some may assume that this is the season to relax, but family picnics, forth of July fireworks, and other social events are just around the corner.

Caregiver burnout is common in the summer. It can be frustrating for care takers to stay indoors to look after less active clients. Family events can be a stressful and judgmental time for caregivers.

Help ease your caregivers through this time by providing them with helpful information and resources. Below is a list of symptoms a caregiver might experience during a burnout period, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

• Feeling overwhelmed
• Lack of/too much sleep
• Gaining/losing a lot of weight
• Feeling tired most of the day
• Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy
• Easily irritated or angered
• Constant paranoia
• Feeling sad/depressed most of the day
• Frequent headaches, body aches, or other unusual physical problems
• Abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests integrating the following into a caregiver’s routine to help cope with caregiver burnout:

• Find local caregiver resources
• Ask for and accept help. Create a list of simple tasks that others can help you with. Let your helpers choose what they would like to do. For example, a colleague could cover the grocery list once a month while a family friend could help take the client for walks.
• Ask family relatives to help cover the cost of aid for a loved one if it is a stressor.
• Allow yourself to say no to larger tasks such as preparing holiday meals
• Don’t feel guilty about not being a “perfect” caregiver. Perfect parents don’t exist just as perfect caregivers do not exist. You’re doing the best that you can.
• Try to change how you react to situations, rather than trying to change your clients activities.
• Set realistic goals and break them into small steps.
• Prioritize, make lists, and create a daily routine
• Stay in touch with family and friends
• Join a support group for caregivers in your situation, such as caring for someone with dementia. Besides being a great way to make new friends, you can also pick up some caregiving tips from others who are facing the same problems you are.
• Give yourself time to enjoy the simple things in life, like going to the movies.
• Make an effort to be physically active on most days of the week and eat nutritious foods
• Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
• Get a check up at your doctor’s office. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, discuss this with your doctor.
• Keep a sense of humor. Laughing stretches the muscles in your face and releases endorphins. It is also helps build a friendship between you and your client.

Special thanks to the writers at Caregiver List for providing much of the information for this article.

“Coping with Caregiver Burnout: Enjoying Summer Fun by Managing Caregiver Stress.” 07 June 2009. Caregiver List. 08 June 2009 .

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