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Mental Health Awareness Month: A Caregiver’s Guide to Avoid Stress and Burnout

By Jessica Deng

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and mental health for aging loved ones is just as important as it is for caregivers. Taking care of a loved one who has dementia, physical disabilities, or other age-related conditions makes demands on your time, energy, and emotions.

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience and for most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide. However, sometimes caregiving can be frustrating and have mental and physical effects on the caregiver, leading to stress, burnout, and anxiety. The mental and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one.

Before we can explore what tips, caregivers can utilize to prevent stress and burnout, below are signs of what stress and burnout may look or feel like:

  • Anger or frustration toward the person you’re caring for
  • Denial about your loved one’s condition
  • Withdrawal from, or losing interest in, activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in eating habits; weight loss or gain
  • Inability to concentrate that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks or causes you to forget appointments.
  • Depression
  • Sleeplessness

Here are some helpful tips for caregivers to reduce stress and avoid burnout:

  • Give yourself a break. Ask a friend or family to fill in for you for a few hours occasionally so you can take a walk, watch a movie, or go out to dinner.
  • Simplify your communication. Keep extended family and friends up to date to share updates with everyone simultaneously.
  • Take advantage of respite care services. Respite care provides a temporary break for caregivers. This can range from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • Self-care. Don’t forget about yourself because you’re too busy caring for someone else. Set aside time for yourself, even if it’s just an hour or two.
  • Join a caregiver support group. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others in the same situation can help you manage your stress, locate helpful resources, and reduce feelings of frustration and isolation.

There is support and strategies for reorganizing your priorities to make you a happier person and a better caregiver. There are only so many hours in the day and remember, you need time for yourself. Talk to one of our care coordinators at LifeWorx and make arrangements to improve your and your loved one’s quality of life.

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