Caregiver Burnout – 3 ways to avoid it

caregiver burnout

Caregiver Burnout

Taking care of your loved one can be a rewarding experience, but the demands of caregiving can also be overwhelming.  If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your own health, relationships, and state of mind — eventually leading to caregiver burnout. Some signs that you may be getting close to burnout include:

  • You find yourself withdrawing from your friends and family.
  • You lose interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • You feel blue, irritable, or hopeless.
  • You notice you’re losing or gaining weight.
  • Your sleep patterns are changing.
  • You get sick more often.

When you’re burned out, it’s difficult to do anything, let alone look after someone else’s needs.  Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself in the midst of taking care of another.

1. Take time for yourself 

Taking time for yourself every day — even just a few minutes — is one way to help you recharge. Some examples to try:  do some gentle stretching or yoga before breakfast, go for a 20-minute walk or nap, see a movie with a friend, or pursue any hobby you love.  Taking time for yourself will help reduce your stress, recharge your batteries, and ultimately make you a better caregiver.

2. Know your limits 

You cannot provide good care if you are exhausted and stressed out. Learn when to say no to others (and to yourself!) Practice limit setting on small things. It’s OK to say no to contributing to the school bake sale or dog-sitting for your neighbour. Listen to your body and pay attention to the physical messages it sends you (e.g. difficulty sleeping, weakened immune system, changes in appetite, etc.)

3. Develop your own support network and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Find someone you can trust – whether it’s a friend, co-worker or neighbor – and talk to them about your feelings and frustrations.  Make a list of people you can call when you need a break or help with day-to-day needs.  Joining a caregiver support group can help you manage stress, locate helpful resources and stay connected with others.  Look into different resources that are covered by MSP or your own extended health care. There are a variety of resources and organizations in place to support caregivers that may include:

  • Private care aides
  • Home Health services (Fraser Health)
  • Adult day care
  • Respite care
  • Support groups

Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity! Avoiding caregiver burnout depends on it!

Some Local Resources: 

Delta Caregivers’ Education and Support Network 

The Centre for Supportive Care
4631 Clarence Taylor Cres.,
Ladner, BC V4K 4L8
Contact: 604-948-0660 or info@deltahospice.org

Adult Day Centres

Adult Day Centres

Deltaview Adult Day Care

Fraser Health – Home and Community Care 

Fraser Health Home and Community Care

Fraser Health Caregiver Support

Home Health Service Line: 1-855-412-2121

Let us help!

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, or just need a helping hand, we’d love to talk to you. Kristin Beare, our Occupational Therapist and the author of this post is available to meet with you to assess the situation and help you find ways to manage your stress and continue your caring!

Give Kristin a call at 604-283-7827 or send her a message using our contact form!

Want more information on Occupational Therapy?

Positive Changes in your Day in 3 Easy Steps

positive changes

3 Ways to Spark Positive Changes in Your Daily Routine

We’ve all been there. You’re stuck in a rut and each day feels like the one before it. There are positive changes you know you want to (or should) be making, but even thinking about them can be overwhelming. Being healthy is a lifestyle choice and one of the best ways to improve or maintain your health is to find small, simple ways to make positive changes that promote wellness for your mind, body and spirit. Here are some quick go-to tips that I’ve learned in my work as an occupational therapist that will help you spark some positive changes in your daily routine.

1. Start small.

Begin with small activity changes. Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual. Try a new food for lunch. Drive a different route to work. Swap out 30 minutes of TV for that new book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months. While they may seem like insignificant actions on their own, changing up your ‘usuals’ will help spur positive changes elsewhere. Small changes can help ease you into it, if you are like most of us and sometimes struggle to break out of old routines.

2. Don’t try to do it all at once.

This goes hand-in-hand with #1. It can be easy to get into an all-or-nothing mentality. For example, waking up two hours early to make it to the gym, swapping your steak for a vegan diet, and deciding to teach yourself knitting in time to knit your entire family sweaters for Christmas, is too much to try to take on at once. Even though you may meet all of these goals for a day (or two), chances are, you will not be able to sustain all of these new changes and will feel even more discouraged than before you started. So rather, pick one or two positive changes at a time that you can see yourself maintaining long-term.

3. Be accountable.

Tell someone about the change you’re trying to make. Recruit your partner or a friend or coworker to join with you. Having someone who can ask you how your change is going and encourage you along the way will help keep you motivated and focused. Make a to-do list at the beginning of each day and include your small activity change(s). Having a visual reminder will help you be accountable to yourself and there is something incredibly satisfying about checking off the box once it’s done!

Last but not least

Lastly, stick with it and build upon your success! There is truth in the saying “old habits die hard”, and creating positive changes in your daily routine is an ongoing process…not a quick fix. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day making your new change – rekindle the spark and start fresh the next day!

Want some help?

If you’d like some help making positive changes in your life, give Kristin a call at 604-283-7827 or book online today!

What is an Occupational Therapist? (Part 2)

Kristin-Image

Our Occupational Therapist extraordinaire, Kristin Beare is back again answering more questions you may not even know you had!

Q: I’m still unsure as to what an Occupational Therapist (OT) does. Will he/she help me find employment?

A: One of the most common misconceptions about Occupational Therapy is that it exclusively focuses on helping people find jobs.  It is true that occupational therapy can play an important role in returning to work after injury or illness, however to an OT “occupation” refers to much more than just your chosen career. Occupation encompasses everything that you do in your day-to-day life. For example, you may have occupations as a parent or spouse, a student, a hockey player, or an amateur home cook. Our occupations are what define us and the ability to participate in them in meaningful ways is essential to our well-being.

Q: So, how can an OT help me? 

A: OTs are interested in the interactions between the person, their environments, and their occupations, across the lifespan. Our aim is to help our clients:

  • function at the highest possible level,
  • maintain or restore their independence, and
  • participate in their everyday activities of life.

Unfortunately, there are sometimes barriers that make these things difficult to do on your own.  Some of these barriers may include: an onset, progression, or relapse of illness or disability, changes in physical or cognitive functioning as a result of normal aging, environmental factors, social isolation, or economic status.

An OT can help you address these barriers, through interventions that focus on:

  • enhancing existing skills;
  • creating opportunities;
  • promoting wellness;
  • remediating or restoring skills, and
  • modifying or adapting the environment or activity (AOTA, 2013).

Occupational therapy is client-driven, meaning that you are an active participant in all aspects of therapy. Your OT will be there to collaborate, empathize, instruct, problem-solve, encourage, and advocate for you.

Q: What can I expect during my initial consultation with an OT? 

A: During the initial consultation with your OT, she will want to get to know as much about you as possible and will ask you a series of questions about your current occupational performance and areas of strengths and of concern, covering all areas of function: self-care (e.g. personal care, mobility, dressing), productivity (i.e. work, school, homemaking, volunteering), and leisure.

Therapy goals will also be set out collaboratively between you and your OT during this initial session. Based upon your goals and unique situation, an appropriate treatment plan will be determined. This may include regular or semi-regular sessions, functional assessment(s), an in-home assessment, or outings within the community.

If you are struggling engaging in any of the meaningful occupations of your daily life, I would love to hear from you and discuss how Occupational Therapy may help you live a more independent, productive, and satisfying life! Contact us today!

What is an Occupational Therapist?

We often get asked the question, “What is an Occupational Therapist?” We asked Kristin the same question, and she said she’d like to let everyone know! This is the first post in a two part series on what an OT is. Enjoy!


 

 

A day in the life of a community-based Occupational Therapist

Hi everyone, this is Kristin.  I am excited and very honoured to be part of the team at Alongside You as an Occupational Therapist. Coming on board with Alongside You is a unique opportunity for me to not only establish valuable connections and roots within the community, but also provide services that are accessible to those who may fall outside of the traditional occupational therapy umbrella  (e.g. hospital-based, Home Care, long-term care facilities etc.).  

To give you an idea of the type of services I may be able to provide, here is a glance at what a typical day might look like for me…

(these are hypothetical scenarios and do not represent current or past clients)

9:00am – Get to the office. Check work emails. Prepare for the day’s clients. Prep time may include gathering necessary assessment forms, putting together handouts, looking up directions to a client’s home, or picking up equipment from a vendor to trial with a client.

11:00am – Initial consultation with a new client. She has been in a motor vehicle accident that has left her with chronic back pain.  Because of this, she is having difficulty managing some of her daily activities, is sleeping poorly, and is discouraged because she has not been able to keep up with her gardening. After gathering information about her current daily routines and habits, I complete a brief functional screen to get a sense of her physical abilities and level of discomfort.  Together, we decide that we will focus on activity modification, positioning, and energy conservation as our goals for the next two sessions to help restore her ability to participate in her daily activities.

1:00pm – Follow-up treatment session with a client who is struggling with re-defining his roles and occupations after an injury forced him into early retirement. We complete an interest checklist together and he identifies giving back to his community as an important part of his self-identity. We discuss various ways he may be able to do this and I provide him with information on local volunteer resources. He has some anxiety around meeting new people, so we plan to meet for our next session at the rec centre to meet the volunteer coordinator together.

3:00pm – Home assessment.  An elderly couple has concerns regarding their ability to continue living in their home safely. Being in the actual home environment allows me to visualize barriers and potential hazards and provide appropriate recommendations for modifications or equipment that allow for greater safety and independence within the home.  I will return next week with some equipment for them to trial.

4:30pm – Make sure all of my paperwork and documentation is complete from today’s appointments. Write up the equipment recommendations for my home assessment earlier today and call vendors to arrange an equipment trial. Send an email to the volunteer coordinator to schedule a visit next week. Return any missed calls or emails and pack up and head home!


 

Stay tuned for Part Two where Kristin will answer a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)! If after reading this you think she might be able to help you, please give her a call at (604) 283-7827 or email her through our contact form. She’d love to hear from you!

 

 

+