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Family Caregiver Burnout

Posted On 03/08/2011
Q:

It is important to take care of yourself to better help your elder family members

A:

This is a term we commonly hear when it comes to caring for the needs of a elder loved one. The idea of providing care for our elder parent or relative is a noble one, to say the least. And, it’s wonderful to contribute to the well being of another person and know that what you do makes a difference for them in a positive and healthy way.

However, for many of us in caring roles we can tend to forget about our own needs. Most of the family caregivers I have met like to think that they “can handle it”, especially women caregivers. After all, as women we have raised kids, held down a job, paid bills, ran a household, planned family vacations, did projects with our spouses and so on. Surely, we can help mom out a few hours a week.

And we can. But usually it’s not a few hours a week that’s the problem. It’s when the few hours turn into ten or twenty...or we simply lose track of how much time exactly. Time adds up if mom needs phone reassurance, help paying bills, taking out trash, mopping the floor, and helping her bathe. And, don’t forget, making sure she has healthy meals too. Oh, does she need her meds picked up at the pharmacy? Is she taking them properly? When is her next check up at the doctor?

The next thing you know you find yourself questioning why you feel so anxious, irritable or physically run down and aren’t sure why. After all, you love your mom and your family. You’re helping so many people and that feels good right? Well, at least it did. It did until you OVER gave. That is where the problem comes in. Often our hearts are bigger then our ability to pull off our desires. We can multi-task ourselves sick.

If you are starting to feel your well being becoming compromised let me encourage you to do some self-examination to start to determine if you are. When did you start feeling this way? How long has it been going on? Do you have enough support from family and friends? Are you involved in a church or other community type group that puts some energy back into you? Are you exercising? Eating right? Do you laugh every day? Get enough sleep? Sleep soundly?

These are just some of the many things to consider. But I do encourage you to consider them. If you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be ABLE to take care of others. It’s not selfish. It’s smart and it’s necessary…so that you will be able to care for those you love for a long time to come. Your friend on this journey,

Traci
Owner of HBD &
Advocate for your family!

 
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