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COVID-19: WE ARE STILL ACCEPTING ORDERS BUT HAVE A 4-5 DAY SHIPMENT DELAY IN DUE TO VOLUME
COVID-19: WE ARE STILL ACCEPTING ORDERS BUT THERE WILL BE A 4-5 DAY SHIPPING DELAY DUE TO VOLUME
Caregiving: How to Avoid Burnout

Caregiving: How to Avoid Burnout

Caregivers represent a massive and growing segment of healthcare in the United States. Among these assistance providers, informal caregivers, unpaid individuals who typically provide support for family members, friends, or other loved ones, are an increasingly important segment. 43.5 million Americans have provided some form of unpaid caregiving in the past 12 months. With so many people, many of whom are not professionals, providing care for loved ones, the difficulties of caregiving are bound to become more pronounced. Professional caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and this is amplified when taking care of a loved one or when trying to balance informal caregiving with a career. Burnout is a common experience, but there are many ways to combat fatigue and frustration.

Caregiver Burnout Depression Coping Strategies

The Unprecedented Rates of Caregiving

Increasing numbers of people are choosing to care for loved ones at home, and many of them are providing this care themselves:

  • 85 percent of caregivers care for a relative or other loved one.
  • The economic value of informal care provided has risen to over $470 billion a year, an increase of over $100 billion since 2007.
  • The average age of caregivers is 49.2 years old. 34 percent of caregivers are 65 or above.
  • The number of caregiving hours increases with a caregiver's average age.
  • 48 percent of care recipients reside at home, and another 35 percent in their caregiver's home.
  • 40 percent of caregivers are in high-burden situations.

Informal caregiving is an increasingly common part of healthcare, especially within senior care and care for those with dementia. And while the typical image of caregivers tends to be a younger person providing support to an ailing parent, it comprises many different family relationships. Many people spend their old age taking care of a spouse. Many others are sandwiched between raising younger relatives and caring for older ones. And the tasks many of them perform take up an exceptional percentage of their time.

Caregivers, on average, spend:

  • 13 days each month on housekeeping, food preparation, transportation, and other domestic tasks.
  • 6 days each month on assistance tasks (helping the care recipient).
  • 13 hours per month managing medical and financial matters.

These responsibilities may be part of being a caregiver, but many have more complex tasks. In addition, many caregivers have no one to assist them:

  • 46 percent of caregivers providing complex, chronic care perform medical or nursing tasks.
  • 96 percent of these caregivers assist with activities of daily living (ADLs).
  • 57 percent of all caregivers report a self-imposed lack of choice about performing medical tasks; this is usually because no other help is available or insurance will not pay for a professional caregiver.

Caregiving Caregiver Burnout Depression Coping Strategies

Reducing Burnout

Looking at these numbers, it's easy to understand caregiver burnout. Informal caregivers spend long hours on domestic and assistive tasks, and many also have full- or part-time employment. They also contend with the emotional difficulty of providing medical and daily care to a loved one, who may be disabled. None of this is easy, but it can be rewarding. Caregiving has value and can strengthen the close relationship between the caregiver and recipient. There are also numerous sources that the caregiver can rely on to ease their duties or provide emotional support.

There are two basic categories of reducing burnout: practical support and emotional support.

Practical Support

Practical support involves finding methods of easing duties or organizations that can help with assistive or domestic tasks. Although not everyone can afford a formal caregiver or successfully receive insurance money to pay for one, there are options to reduce the stress of your caregiving duties.

Practical approaches to ease your duties include:

  • Organization: Calendars and to-do lists to manage medical needs and appointments. A system of arrangement and safekeeping for important legal, financial, and medical documents and information.
  • Research: Knowing as much as possible about your care recipient's health conditions and medications. Accompanying the recipient to medical appointments to get information directly from their doctors. Consulting knowledgeable websites like Health in Aging.
  • Medical Supplies: Having emergency supplies like first aid kits, or even medications for common complications and illnesses like colds and flu outbreaks will help you prepare for the unexpected.
  • Assistive Devices: Having walkers, canes, or reachers on-hand for times when your loved one's mobility is limited, even if they do not need them on a daily basis.
  • Environmental Adjustments: Grab bars for the shower, raised supports for beds and toilets, motion sensing alarms, and other safety and stability devices will help you alter your home environment to keep your loved one safe and comfortable.
  • Support Agencies and Other Community Resources: There are numerous organizations that can help you find care, such as the United Way, various faith-based organizations, and the Eldercare Locator.

Part of getting practical help is identifying your needs as well as your recipient's. Categorizing your tasks can help you determine which ones require the most effort or time. When looking for support, these might be the first responsibilities to consider finding help for. Examples of types of duties include:

  • Domestic Care: respite services or "home helpers" can be called for assistance with daily tasks. Adult day care services can provide care outside the home, including social programs, recreation, and meals.
  • Financial Responsibilities: this can include the process of paying for financial needs, as well as procuring financial assistance.
  • Food Preparation: meal delivery services can make this easier.
  • Medical Care: home medical services, house call physicians, private duty nurses, hospice teams, and many other options are available.
  • Transportation: services are available to take older adults to appointments.

Caregiver Burnout Depression Coping Strategies

Emotional Support

Emotional Support involves finding services, groups, or methods of easing the stress or emotional difficulty of caretaking. Understanding and fulfilling your own emotional needs is not as straightforward as figuring out the daily tasks you'd like help with, and may require a greal deal of discussion and reflection.

Emotional support for your caregiving duties may include:

  • Discussion: Even if it's as simple as letting your loved ones know what you're going through, discussion can make your own feelings more manageable, as well as make people understand your experiences.
  • Support Groups: Search for groups for people in your situation. Caregiver groups exist, as well as groups for more specific situations, such as for caring for loved ones in hospice or with dementia.
  • Self-Care: It's easy to ignore your own needs when caring for someone else. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, exercise, relaxation, and recreation, as well as meeting your dietary needs. Respite services can help you get time to attend to your own needs.
  • Mental Health Care: Learn to recognize signs of depression, which is more common in caregivers. Dealing with the stress of caregiving may require the assistance of a therapist, particularly for those in high-burden situations.

Getting help for yourself while caregiving isn't uncommon. Although attending to a loved one's needs is rewarding, it can become the overwhelming concern of your life, disrupting your other responsibilities and your ability to meet your own personal needs. Finding practical and emotional support can help you both balance your life as well as better meet the needs of your loved one and their care.

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