I guess we are taught from birth to care for the ones we love, heck maybe even care for the ones we don’t love so much. But at any rate we are a nation of caregivers. This is a good trait, most of the time.
To be an effective caregiver, you have to start with caring for yourself, you need to know when your trouble light is about to go on and say: “WARNING, TAKING A BREAK.” Burnout of a caregiver is rampant is today’s society, people compelled by their desire to be a great caregiver, don’t give into their own needs. The end result is bad, the caregiver’s physical and mental health condition drops, the person receiving the care is getting sub-standard care, because the caregiver doesn’t have the resources to do a good job.
So watch for the warning signals… Are you tired, not getting enough sleep, being awaken in the middle of the night to do care duties? Do you find yourself irritable and getting angry and resentful with the one you are caring for? Are you having trouble completing normal tasks, like cooking, shopping or doing household chores? If so, the warning light is flashing brightly.
So what are the options to care for yourself?
First, you have to get sleep, you may need to get help during the night with a home health care agency, sometimes local government agencies can assist if you don’t have funds. Many local assisted living communities have respite stay programs. Take a break, even for a week and move the person you are caring for to a respite program just so you can get a break and recharge your batteries, do this as often as you need to.
There is no guilt in trying to take care of yourself. We all have to succumb to the notion that we are mortal, that we have needs and that in the end we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves.