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Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
07/25/11  7:27 PM PST
Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Being able to cope with the strains and stresses of being a caregiver is part of the art of caregiving. So that we can continue to be caregivers and reamin healthy, we must be able to see our own limitations and learn to care for ourselves as well as others.

It is important to make the effort to recognize the signs of burnout. To do this we must be honest and willing to hear feedback from those around us. This is especially important for those caring for family or friends. Too often caregivers who are not closely associated with the healthcare profession get overlooked and lost in the commotion of medical emergencies and procedures.  We must allow those who do care for us to tell us about our behavior and any noticeable decrease in energy or mood changes.

Burnout isn’t like a cold. You don’t always notice it when you are in its clutches. Very much like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the symptoms of burnout can begin surfacing months after a traumatic episode. The following are symptoms we might notice in ourselves, or others might say they see in us. Think about what is being said and consider the possibility of burnout.

•Feelings of depression.

•A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue

•Decreasing interest in work

•Decrease in work production

•Withdrawal from social contacts

•Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol

•Increasing fear of death

•Change in eating patterns

•Feelings of helplessness

Strategies to ward off or cope with burnout are important. To counteract burnout, the following specific strategies are recommended

•Participate in a support network

•Consult with professionals to explore burnout issues

•Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies

•Vary the focus of caregiving responsibilities if possible (rotate responsibilities with family members)

•Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet

•Establish “quiet time” for meditation

•Get a weekly massage

•Stay involved in hobbies

By acknowledging the reality that being a caregiver is filled with stress and anxiety and understanding the potential for burnout, caregivers can be on guard against this debilitating condition. As much as it is said, the best way to be an effective caregiver is to take care of yourself.

Source: Dr. M. Ross Seligson

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