If you’re the primary caregiver for your spouse, parent or other family member, it can be gratifying to provide these services. But there is another side that families often don’t talk about.
This occurs when the caregiver has been performing these duties for too long of a period and without any real relief.
Depending on the health of your loved one, the level of care and attention required can vary. You may be responsible for shopping, cooking, cleaning and managing the finances. Or they may need help with bathing, dressing, grooming or getting into and out of bed.
Those who care for a family member with Alzheimer’s may also need to be available 24/7 as the illness progresses. If your loved one is unable to sleep through the night, you likely aren’t either. Adjusting to different emotions and behaviors can take a toll.
Burnout can result in exhaustion or the inability to continue care. It’s serious for the person’s physical and emotional health. To make matters worse, caregivers often don’t take care of themselves. They may feel that there isn’t time to exercise, eat right, take time off for medical appointments or to see friends.
Two of the major causes of burnout are that caregivers weren’t able to get the help they needed or they have taken on more than they are able to handle. Other reasons may include:
Their own expectations are set too high
They may feel as if they’re failing to provide everything that’s needed
The loved one or other family members may have unreasonable demands
They may not receive any help or refuse offers from others
They may believe it’s best if they provide the care
Lack of self-awareness may lead to their own poor health
If you begin to notice you’re experiencing a few of these symptoms, or if you see it in a family member who is providing caregiver services, steps should be taken to resolve the situation. Burnout typically will not go away on its own.
1. Withdrawal from friends and family
2. Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
3. Feelings of irritability and hopelessness
4. Changes in appetite or weight
5. Changes in sleep patterns
6. Becoming ill more often
7. Feelings of wanting to hurt themselves or the person being cared for
8. Emotional and physical exhaustion
Regular short-term respite can make a big difference. Relieving primary caregivers for breaks to take walks, take care of errands or to take care of themselves may help them maintain their health and avoid burnout.
Consider whether any of these suggestions might work for your family:
1. Have another family member or friend stay with your loved one a few hours a week.
2. Contract with a home agency to provide care and relieve the primary caregiver on a regular basis.
3. Arrange to take your loved one to an adult day care service to provide daily respite.
4. Use respite care in an assisted living community when the caregiver will be gone a few days.
Many assisted living communities provide respite care so you can be assured that your loved one will be watched over if you need to be away for a few days. Individuals typically have access to all of the activities and amenities of the community.
But if the needs of your loved one are beginning to exceed what you can offer at home or if the health of the caregiver is becoming negatively impacted, short term relief won’t be enough. It may be time to consider a more permanent solution.
Most older adults who move into a community are struggling with the activities of daily living, such as:
Bathing safely alone
Needing help with hygiene
Shopping and preparing meals
Keeping up with home maintenance
Assisted living offers help with all of these tasks and more. There is also the added comfort of knowing that someone is available 24/7 if help is ever needed.
The benefits of assisted living can help loved ones maintain their independence while also improving their quality of life.
If you’re not familiar with everything today’s assisted living has to offer, here is a list of some of the advantages you’ll find:
Private residences to make it their own home
Assistance with daily tasks when needed
Support to maintain an independent lifestyle
Healthy meals and dining programs
Monthly planned activities
Fitness center and exercise classes
Games, education, classes and other amenities
Social events both in the community and off-site
Many opportunities to meet and make new friends
We understand the toll that families often experience when caregiving for a loved one. Although the love and intention are there, there are limits to what a spouse or adult child can take on. Those needing the care may also feel as if they’re part of the problem.
If your loved one needs help with the activities of daily living, you may have found the perfect choice. At Ingleside at Rock Creek Assisted Living, we provide a helping hand to our residents but the benefits of community life go even further.
You’ll find private residences so your loved one can maintain privacy and many social opportunities that provide fun, education and artistic endeavors. The possibilities to meet and make new friends are easy and ongoing with so many activities and events.
And our compassionate team is not only here to help your loved one with basic tasks but to encourage them to live a full and enriched life.
If you’d like more information about assisted living, please download our complimentary guide Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living. Call (202) 846-2651 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.