When Caregivers Also Need to Take Care

Caring for our families comes naturally. So, it’s no surprise to note that about 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50+ in the last year, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

“It’s wonderful to care for someone who once cared for you. But, caregivers should also know the challenges of caregiving, and burnout is at the top of the list. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of burnout, and to practice self-care whenever possible,” says Justine Vaccaro, LMSW, director of social work for the Nathaniel Witherell.

Here, we highlight some of the signs of caregiver burnout, and offer tips to help caregivers avoid it.

Beat Burnout

Whether assisting with daily chores or performing medical tasks, or whether care is temporary or long-term, burnout can become an issue. Signs include:

  • Chronic irritability; feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Physical or emotional exhaustion
  • Withdrawal from friends or favorite activities.

Practice Self-Care

The #1 thing to do: Ask for help when you need it. Other important self-care strategies include:

  • Talk to a professional therapist, social worker or clergy member. Acknowledging feelings of frustration and hopelessness, and seeking support, is essential.
  • Make “time off” a necessity. Schedule exercise classes, dinner with a friend or a movie night and go. Enlist another family member to pitch in when you’re unavailable.
  • Divide and conquer: Assign tasks to friends and family who may not live nearby, like remote bill paying or ordering grocery deliveries.
  • Be realistic: If your loved one’s condition is worsening, or if you’re having trouble managing care, consult with an eldercare professional. The Nathaniel Witherell’s team is available to help family members determine when it’s time to consider skilled nursing care. Call us at (203) 618-4200.
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