In Part 1 of The Caregiver, we talked about the preservation of independence, dealing with guilt and the physiological changes attributed to age. These are issues that occur all too often when caring for a loved one. In this portion we will go over how to deal with stress, burnout as well as the wonderful benefits to being a caregiver.
As a caregiver, you do not have to be all things to all people. You may be able to do it for a short time but stress will catch up to you. I cannot “stress” how important it is to take care of yourself first! This means that before you go ahead with managing the stressfulness of caregiving, in your own way, you should also find solutions to managing your own stress. Taken from Age – Friendly Manitoba, here are some tips to dealing with the stresses of care giving:
- Take care of your health. Make sure you get adequate rest, good nutrition and sufficient exercise.
- Trust and accept your own abilities and talents.
- Practice gentleness with yourself and others.
- Be proactive – not reactive. Act in ways that are consistent with your personal beliefs, not in response to the influence of others.
- Remember that anger and resentment are often symptoms of exhaustion.
- Think of resting as recharging, not as being lazy.
- Let go of petty grievances and big grudges.
- Maintain hobbies and interests you enjoy.
- Recognize and respect your limits as a caregiver.
- When you reach your limits, look to family, friends, health care professionals and the community for support.
At all cost, you want to avoid completely burning out. Some indications of burnout include continuous feelings of rage, alienation and fear. You may find yourself forced to do tasks that leave you wishing you were some place else. Does this sound familiar? You may be reaching the burnout stage. Here are some things you can do for coping with potential burnout.
- Learn to recognize the signs of stress.
- Find someone you can talk to about your feelings.
- Set realistic goals – determine your priorities.
- Balance work, family and time for yourself. It’s critical to make time for you, even if it’s just an hour or two.
- Consider joining a support group that can help you manage stress, locate resources and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Talk to a professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or nurse, who is trained in counselling on caregiving issues.
- Take advantage of respite care, which provides temporary care giving while you take a break.
Additionally, get family involved and create a system of sharing the workload of caregiving. If something happens, each family member will have the assurance that a system is in place that outlines the needs of the person needing care. Sharing care giving responsibilities can be a wonderful way of strengthening relationships as you work together. It is important that you establish a backup plan for when you can’t be available and that your plans are feasible and can be put into effect. Don’t demand too many changes from family members but accept the help they offer and realize that they may want to do it their own way. Lastly, always listen to one another and come to a mutual agreement, reinforce the family effort.
Caregiving should be a rewarding experience rooted in deep compassionate care for the person in need. It improves relationships, provides satisfaction from doing a job well, as well as giving you a heightened sense of value, self-esteem and an appreciation of life! Care giving gives you a chance to give back and it provides a sense of accomplishment. It allows you to develop new skills, grow your knowledge base and increases your advocacy abilities. Lastly, it allows you to continue to create precious and priceless memories.
There is so much more to talk about on the issue of care giving. With our aging population, we must be ready for the possibility of one day being in this position. Working in a personal care home, care giving for me is simply about unconditional compassionate care. No matter what diseases, illnesses and behaviours my residents may have, their right to care is no different than our right to live!
If you wish to locate a support group or some professional counselling see:
Manitoba Senior’s Guide In Winnipeg: 945-6565 • 1-800-665-6565
- Age Friendly Manitoba, a guide for the caregiver
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
- Alzheimer Society of Manitoba
This article is for information purposes only and should not be intended as medical advice. Should you require further information, please seek the services of your medical professional.
Roldan Sevillano Jr., works as a Recreation Therapist in a Winnipeg nursing home.