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?

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!

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