Put Your Mask On First: Caregiver Survival Tips

A “family caregiver” is someone who is providing any such type of emotional or physical care for the disable or ill loved persons at your home. Any of your loved ones who are mentally or physically ill, or trapped into any sort of disable or substance misuse issue, at that moment the helping hand services of a family caregiver is the major option left behind.

They are mostly persons who may be any relative, friend, or even a neighbor who provides help to a person with any mental or physical disability. People who are doing this noble act so that others can sleep in peace are the flowers in Adam’s garden. These people sacrifice their time and shed their sweat and blood for others.

Care giver

Some caregivers are even children aged from 8 to 18, providing care to an adult or an elderly relative. This may sound harsh, but these children are helping out their parents or grandparents in a time when they are helpless. Some caregivers are parents taking care of their grown-up child because he or she cannot afford money or rent to live alone. Some grown-ups don’t study, don’t work, and don’t do anything with their life, but their parents take care of them no matter how old they have become, just because they love them. These acts may be very noble but can have their effect on the caregiver providing fertile soil for the growth of many new problems. First, let’s talk about the benefits of care-giving.

The Gains:

Well, let’s talk about what it is for these unpaid people taking care of others. At first glance, it may seem that these people are wasting their time, taking care of others for free while at the same time, they can do some jobs. But that is not the case. Apart from the reason for love, studies have shown to improve the cognitive behavior of older adults providing informal care regularly. Family caregivers have also reported feeling an emotional attachment and that they are helping them make a positive benefit to the recipient’s life. So even though family care-giving may seem deeming, it is fruitful in many ways.

The Problems with Care-giving; And how to avoid them:

One of the most primary problems with care-giving is time management. Time is tough to manage during care-giving. A caregiver can still take care of the person while utilizing his time in his leisure activities, but in most cases, this becomes a full-time job. If this problem is not resolved soon, it can lead to depression as a result of the stress of work and other negative thoughts. This can be resolved by simply doing some schedule management and dividing your workload so that you are providing care and leaving time for other things that make you feel relaxed and stress-free. Many people read a book, go out for jogging or even watch TV; it’s all up to you. Just try to relax and have some time for yourself in a day, and dedicate a few hours to yourself.

Then there are other problems like a caregiver has been known to fall sicker than an average person. This is because there have been reports showing 23% higher levels of stress hormone and a 15% decrease in levels of antibody response in the caregivers as compared to an average person. Studies have also shown a decrease in relationship status between the caregiver and the recipient, leading to many other problems such as conflicts between the two. This again roots back to the primary challenge of overloading and time management. The caregiver needs to take care of his health and needs to address any problem of sickness etc.

More problems can also come when the caregiver is taking care of a person that is not from his/her culture. This makes a very sensitive situation as one person is from a different culture, practicing different beliefs, and may even be taking a separate diet as compared to the caregiver. This can be very problematic. The person receiving the care may be a vegetarian while the caregiver himself can’t live without meat. The recipient may have a different religion and different beliefs that may result in conflicts between the caregiver and the recipient. The solution may be as simple as just studying for the culture. If you are taking care of someone not belonging to your culture or religion, try to study their culture and try to find things that you both have in common. Things that both of you like to eat or do. If you can’t find things like that, then simply hire someone to do that. Don’t like cooking meat because you are a vegan, then hire someone to cook meat for the recipient so that you don’t have to stress yourself for cooking meat.

All of these problems lead to more stress and depression and can have deeming effects on the caregiver’s health if not managed properly and adequately. So these problems need addressing soon so they can be solved in time.

Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout results when the caregiver becomes extremely tired and can’t give it more. It can be either physical or emotional, but it can be very damaging to the health of the caregiver. It can even result in sudden action by the caregiver, a loss of living will, and can result in damaging acts to one’s life issue and other suicidal thoughts. This is the result of extreme stress and pressure of the caregiver resulting from exhausting and the extremely hectic schedule he/ she is bound to. How to know that a person is going to have a burnout, well there are signs a person can look for like:

  • Extreme anger and being short-tempered to small things, often resulting in fidgety and anxious behavior.
  • Binge eating or being anorexic, resulting in loss or gain of weight.
  • Loss of joy in things that used to give him/her pleasure, which is also a classical sign of depression.
  • Loss of interest in life goals and having no personal interest.
  • Loss of will to live, or having some sort of suicidal thoughts.

These things seem very easy to understand and pick, but this happens very fast, and before you know it, the person has fallen victim to stress and depression.

How to avoid burnouts? Here are some tips to avoid having burnouts all together:

  • A family should be engaging and intervene where necessary. They should keep tabs about the health of the caregiver and have regular visits and talking sessions with the caregiver to have knowledge of the health of the caregiver.
  • Enlist a friend to keep tabs on the caregiver so that he or she can be saved before it’s too late.
  • Try to outsource. Now how to do this? Simple, make a list of things you don’t want to do, like washing clothes. Then ask your friends or family members to help you complete this task. If not, then ask your neighbors, or ask your local church group to help you. Contact a community that helps the organization or any other organization. Find someone on social media looking to do some volunteer work, or find someone who can do those chores cheaply. Just don’t burden yourself, even if you have to pay a small amount from your pocket, but don’t do the things you don’t like.
  • Try finding a group where you can have some form of human interaction, meet new people, discuss your problems, and try finding a solution from their experiences. Or go hanging out with your friends and have some leisure time.
  • Try using the physco-therapeutic intervention. This can elevate your mood and uplift your depression.
  • Get a day off. Go away for some time. Hire a person for some time. Nothing is more important than your health. Banish the negative thoughts. Your life is very, very important for you and also for the person you are taking care of, that’s why your health is really important. Having negative thoughts, a feeling of hopelessness will have adverse effects on you, and only you. So, take a break off, few hours, few days, however you like, take a break and try to be happy again.

Conclusion:

Care-giving can be tough and demanding. Taking care of your loved ones, taking care of your relatives, or just taking care of someone you don’t even know, but you are doing it in the name of humanity, all of this can be very stressful and can have very deeming effects if not managed correctly. Caregivers are naturally people who like to help others in need or others having any physical problem. Still, caregivers know when to draw a line between self-care and the recipient’s care. But sometimes, this line gets blurred, and this results in many other problems and stressful situations that become necessary to be resolved as soon as possible. So it becomes essential to recognize these problems and recognize these caregivers who need help in maintaining their health, and help them as early as possible.

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