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National Family Caregivers Month 2022: How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

National Family Caregivers Month 2022: How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers represent a massive and growing segment of healthcare in the United States, and National Family Caregivers Month represents a time to pause and acknowledge the sacrifices made by caregivers. 43.5 million Americans provide some form of unpaid caregiving for loved ones annually, and burnout is a common feeling among those who balance caregiving with a career and other family responsibilities. Below we'll be taking a look at how to reduce burnout and access support for yourself while you're supporting your loved ones.

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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.

Reducing Family Caregiver Burnout

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 for Family Caregiving

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.

Emotional Support for Family Caregivers

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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Part of health care literacy is knowing how to afford it. Health care is expensive, especially if you're on a fixed income, and it knowing where to buy quality products at affordable prices can make a major difference for your budget. That's why you should visit Mountainside Medical Equipment! On both our website and at our storefront, we offer wholesale medical supplies on a cash & carry basis. Get top brands for the highest quality assistive and mobility devices at the lowest prices right here!

Mountainside Medical Equipment’s storefront is located at 9266 Old River Road, Marcy, New York 13403. It’s open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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