Algerine respite

Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Algerine Correia explained in Episode 2 of Your Turn to Care how she learned the importance of taking care of herself when she moved her elderly parents into her home. Caring for a loved one who is chronically ill or disabled is demanding, emotionally and physically. The most well-intentioned caregiver may find the stress of giving care, while working and tending to all the other demands of a life, can quickly lead to burnout.

According to WebMD, [] some symptoms of caregiver burnout are:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Irritability

It is critical to recognize warning signs of caregiver burnout and to take action when you realize your life is becoming unmanageable and your health and well-being are at risk.

There are ways to avoid caregiver burnout, according to WebMD: []

  • Talk to someone you can trust, such as a friend, co-worker, or neighbor.
  • Set goals which are realistic and accept that you may need help with caregiving because it is okay to turn to others for help with some tasks.
  • Be realistic about your loved one's disease, especially if it is a progressive disease such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
  • Don't forget about yourself because you're too busy caring for someone else. Set aside time for yourself, even if it's just an hour or two--take a dance class, go out with friends, pamper yourself. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury but an absolute necessity.
  • Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. Accept your feelings. Having negative feelings--such as frustration or anger--about your responsibilities or the person for whom you are caring is normal. It does not mean you are a bad person or a bad caregiver.
  • Talk to a professional if you need to. Most therapists, social workers, and clergy members are trained to counsel individuals dealing with a wide range of physical and emotional issues.
  • Take advantage of respite care services. Respite care provides a temporary break for caregivers. This can range from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • Know your limits and do a reality check of your personal situation.
  • Join a caregiver support group. In Los Angeles, for example, you can register to attend a weekly support group through the Los Angeles Department of Aging. []

Ultimately, being open about your feelings and experiences with others, especially those in a similar situation, can help manage stress and avoid burnout. For more information on resources for caregivers, visit:

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