How We Can Identify and Minimize the Blues as a Caregiver For a Loved One
Looking after the care needs of a loved one can take a toll on one’s own health and well-being. Whether it’s administering medications on time, helping with tasks around the home, checking on their well-being, or the fear that no one understands their issues adequately, it can become personally challenging adding extra stress and potentially overwhelming you.
Seasonal changes can have an effect on the dynamics of helping loved ones as well. During the winter when the days are shorter and inclement weather more likely, it could be a hindrance to get out with your loved one.
How to respond to these types of challenges can have a great effect on your mental health and whether you could be experiencing burn-out.
Caregiver Burn-Out Signs
As a caregiver, here are some indicators of experiencing ‘burn-out’:
- Constant headaches
- Fatigue that doesn’t go away
- Sleep changes that don’t seem to help
- Quick-tempered responses increasing
- Unexplained weight changes
- A sense that no one else understands the issues
- A feeling of inadequacy to meet the loved one’s needs
- A change in appetite
As a caregiver who could be exhibiting any characteristics of burn-out, it could be time to schedule an appointment with your family doctor who can advise the best way to a healthier state.
Ways to reduce caregiver burn-out:
When family members are needing extra care because of dementia or physical needs, family member caregivers are at even more risk for burn-out or depression.
While it’s a normal response to an extra stressful situation, there are ways to mitigate the extra stress including:
- Recruit other family members, friends, and others to help share the caregiving burden so it’s not all being done by one person
- Schedule some personal time doing something enjoyable
- Find caregiver groups online or in the community to help share what works and who can also understand what you’re going through
- Spend time journaling daily to capture highlights and lowlights of your day
- Find an exercise routine from walking, breathing, stretching to anything more rigorous including a fitness class to help relieve stress and relax
- Look into respite services or adult daycare centers in the neighborhood to allow personal time
The Family Caregiver Alliance has numerous online resources that can help with any questions for the caregiver.