Today, people live longer than ever before, and most will surpass the current average life expectancy of 78.6 years. While this means that many of us are fortunate to have parents as part of our lives for longer, it also means facing the possibility of becoming a primary caregiver for at least one of them. Today, more than 40 million Americans provide care to an elderly parent or family member, and long-term caregiving takes a toll on a caregiver’s physical and mental health. Half of caregivers report having difficulty balancing work with their caregiving responsibilities, and at least 20% experience some form of depression. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can be brought on by many factors, including stress, not enough help from others, a feeling of being spread too thin, and a drain on financial resources.
Warning signs of caregiver burnout include feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried, extreme fatigue, sleeping too little or too much, and feelings of sadness, frustration, or anger. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing caregiver burnout, consider lightening your load with these helpful tips:
Seek Outside Help
It is unrealistic to expect one or two family members to provide constant round-the-clock care for a loved one. You may need to consider hiring in-home help during the week to assist your loved one with activities of daily living. If you’re uncomfortable with a non-family member providing care for your loved one, evaluate your other responsibilities outside of work and caregiving and outsource help where necessary. For example, getting assistance with light chores and household cleaning or having groceries delivered instead of running to the store may remove some of the burdens that you’re feeling.
Take Advantage of Respite Care
Respite care and temporary stays provide short-term relief for caregivers needing a break for more than a few hours at a time. Whether you’re taking a much-deserved trip or have work commitments piling up, planning a respite care stay for your loved one will provide you with the time to rest and recharge so that you can continue caring for them. Respite care stays are usually available at any Independent, Assisted, or Memory Care Senior Living Community.
Tour a Senior Living Community
If you’ve been acting as a primary caregiver for a loved one and feel that you can no longer provide the appropriate level of care they require, consider touring a local senior living community. These communities aim to provide seniors with the highest quality of care alongside programming that is engaging and tailored to your loved one’s interests and personal needs. Social opportunities, nutritious meals, exercise classes, and mental, physical, and emotional care are provided daily. You’ll be able to rest assured that your loved one is safe and happy.
No matter what steps you take to lighten your load as a caregiver, remember that you must take care of yourself to take care of others. If your mental and physical health is suffering because you have too much on your plate, it is okay to take steps toward reducing your workload so that you can be available to your loved ones when it matters most.