Caregiver Burnout: How to Avoid It As The Sole Caregiver

When an aging parent starts to show signs of needing permanent care and assistance, many families are unsure of what to do, so often a family member single-handedly takes on the role of caregiver. However, being the sole caregiver for an aging parent can be a big task, especially when an already busy family member takes on the role. This can easily lead to the caregiver beginning to neglect his or her own needs, and if ignored, caregiver burnout is inevitable.

While providing care for a parent can bring satisfaction, trying to keep up with the growing emotional and physical needs of the parent can easily overwhelm the family member who takes on such a large, personal task. When the safety of the parent starts to come in to question, the caregiver can start to feel guilt for not providing enough care, which leads to added stress and caregiver burnout.

How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout

  • Feeling down, depressed and unhappy
  • Not wanting to or not having enough energy to participate in hobbies and activities
  • Developing abnormal eating patterns, and losing or gaining a lot of weight
  • Turning to alcohol or abusing drugs to cope
  • Developing unhealthy sleeping habits such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Withdrawing from friends and family, or becoming impatient or irritable with people around you
  • Getting sick more often or not being able to get rid of an illness
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or a loved one

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

  • Keep a daily routine for both yourself and your parent, and stick to it
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and be sure to drink lots of fluids and take supplements if necessary
  • Get sufficient rest. When your parent(s) is resting, you can rest too
  • Take a little time for yourself each day. Even 15 minutes of “me” time is important
  • Know your limits and do not try to do more than you are capable of handling
  • Don’t be afraid to ask family members or friends for help. They can give you days off or just help with certain tasks
  • Find a friend, support group or doctor that you can confide in and ask for advice and support when needed
  • Enjoy moments of happiness and laughter and try to focus on the satisfaction that you get from providing for your loved one

Caregivers are taking on a large, personal responsibility and so it is important to be able to recognize signs of burnout, and to be equipped to combat it. However, if you do find yourself suffering from burnout, reach out for help. Contact your doctor immediately if you become ill or start having suicidal thoughts, and join a support group who can provide support and ideas for making the experience easier.

Also consider in-home care services or Respite Care, as they can provide your parent with all of the expert, personal care and attention that he or she needs while allowing you to focus on your own health and well-being again. Remember it is important to take care of yourself first so that you can continue to be able to care for the ones you love for many years to come.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your Respite Care needs. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

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