Editor’s note: In this guest post, Anna Preston, a consultant with Live-In Care Hub, a UK non-profit organization, discusses how being a caregiver can be challenging and provides resources to help manage the stresses of being a caregiver.
By Anna Preston (Live-In Care Hub, a UK non-profit)
Working in the care sector can have its ups and downs, but caregivers may suffer from caregiver burnout. But, there’s no doubting that it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can ever do if you are the kind of person who is able to cope no matter what challenges and situations may arise.
Caring for someone in a professional capacity can be demanding as well as rewarding. This is especially the case if you are providing live-in care services. You’ll be expected to provide a range of care services depending on how much care the client needs. These can range from personal care and domestic support to accompanying them on outings and appointments and looking after the family pet if needed. This is why some caregivers, whether professional or family members, sometimes reach a point where they feel they can’t cope.
#1 Tip for Caregiver Burnout – Coping with your emotions as well as theirs
A professional care-at-home giver will be given every support by their agency and this will include a high level of training and mentoring to enable them to give the high standard of care a client expects. But sometimes things can still become a little overwhelming if the client has complex needs or illnesses like dementia. Caregivers have to cope with the emotions of the client as well as their own including:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Frustration or anger.
It’s normal to feel these things from time to time. The important thing is to have in place your own coping strategies, more so if you’re the one caring for a relative with no professional backup.
#2 Tip for Caregiver Burnout – Don’t beat yourself up
Nobody’s perfect and no one is a saint. It’s absolutely normal to feel overwhelmed by the task of caring for someone. Don’t beat yourself up about how you are feeling but instead be kind to yourself and take steps to look after your own health and wellbeing. Caregiver stress is a recognized condition and common signs of this include:
- Feeling worried.
- Feeling tired and losing sleep.
- Weight fluctuation and appetite.
- Unexplained pains or headaches.
- Increased irritability.
#3 Tip for Caregiver Burnout – Ask for and accept help
Find out if any friends or family members of the client can step in to run errands such as collecting shopping or taking the client out on a trip once or twice a week. Ask your agency handlers to provide temporary respite cover for you.
Join a support group for carers either online or physically. Speak to other carers who feel the same way as you; you’ll find that they have all the same emotions you do including feelings of guilt and isolation. Keep in touch with friends.
#4 Tip for Caregiver Burnout – Take care of your health and wellbeing
In a busy job it’s all too easy to neglect your own health and this can lead to you becoming ill. Make sure you:
- Get enough rest and sleep.
- Eat healthily. Resist the temptation for sugary snacks.
- Exercise regularly even if it’s just a short walk or a few stretches.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
If you start to feel ill don’t just battle on, see your primary care physician and get help.
Anna Preston has written other articles that caregivers might find useful:
- Helping the elderly understand the internet
- Does the elderly patient you’re caring for have a gambling problem?
- 6 Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures
- Alzheimer’s caregivers need support
Anna Preston is a consultant with Live-In Care Hub, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the quality of elderly care in the UK by giving everyone the opportunity to be cared for in their own home, where they can still feel part of their community.