One of the great things about technology is the increase in the lifespan of people. This means more people are aging. Families spend more time with their aging parents, and receive the responsibility of providing care even without healthcare training. In the U.S., about 33% of people act as informal caregivers, juggling the tasks of caring for their parents and their own families. The problem with this kind of setup is the risk of caregiver fatigue.
Most informal caregivers are too focused on providing care for their parents that they no longer prioritize their own health and well-being. This can lead to:
- Constant worrying
- Unhealthy weight change
- Loss of interest
- Substance abuse
How do you effectively manage caregiver fatigue? Here are some ways:
Don’t try to take responsibility for everything. If there are some items that you can provide, don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t stress out if things go according to plan, particularly if your parents have conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that make it harder for you to care for them.
If you have too many things on your plate, approach them in a manageable way. Try to break tasks into small ones that would allow you to tick them off your list quickly. Try to create a daily routine. As much as possible, avoid activities that would take a considerable amount of time and energy for you.
Accept the fact that you can’t do everything. If things get too overwhelming, step back and assess the situation. Identify tasks that you can delegate to someone else. If possible, give yourself some time to breathe by asking other family members to take over some of the tasks, such as picking up the groceries or accompanying your parents to their checkups.
If you’re suffering from caregiver fatigue, then a longer break may be needed to get your bearings. What are the advantages of respite care? One of the major ones is that it will allow you to take a much-needed break without having to worry about who is going to take care of your parents. You can go on a vacation, and experienced caregivers will be responsible for your parent’s care.
Often, caregiver fatigue stems from the fact that most feel isolated from their friends and peers. One way of combating caregiver fatigue is by exploring support groups and communities within your area. Reach out to your local caregiving community and you’ll realize that they have adult care programs that can help you with your concern. Not only will it help you get connected with a like-minded community, but it will also help your parents socialize and get back their lives.
If you experience any of the signs of caregiver fatigue, acknowledge your condition and take an active role in addressing it. If you’re feeling sluggish, why not plan on setting aside at least 30 minutes to an hour to focus on your physical health. They are great for helping you sleep and keeping your health in check. If possible, you can schedule a visit to your doctor when you bring your parents for their own check up. Be open to what you’re feeling so it can be addressed.
Caregiver fatigue is real and it can have serious consequences if not immediately addressed. Remember, you cannot take care of your parents if you aren’t healthy. Make sure to focus on your self-care as well.