By Brandy Clayton, RN, BSN, OSA Southwest Dallas
The holidays are just around the corner, and for many people that means chilly days filled with checking items off of shopping lists, gathering with family and friends for dinner, spending time off of work and participating in lifelong traditions with loved ones. However, for caregivers, the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for their loved one remain the same. Instead of enjoying the buzz of excitement that comes with the holiday season, they are navigating their normal duties with the added stress of holiday arrangements.
The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. It is common for caregivers to face feelings of burnout, especially with the addition of the holidays. When someone experiences burnout, that may lead to feeling increased tiredness, irritability, sadness, loss of patience, changes in appetite and more. The pressure of participating in holiday activities while balancing the stress of caring for a loved one can easily become overwhelming, leaving the caregiver at a higher risk of burnout. However, even during the busy holiday season, there are ways for a caregiver to combat feelings of burnout.
Especially during the holiday season, caregivers may experience feelings of resentment towards other family members who are not as actively involved in their loved one’s care. With an already busy calendar filling up more and more by the day, caregivers may be feeling overwhelmed. Caregivers also may be feeling isolated during the holidays because of their responsibility of providing around-the-clock care for their loved one. Studies have shown that approximately 40% of family caregivers of people living with dementia experience feelings of depression.
If not monitored, the added stress of the holidays can quickly lead to caregiver burnout. However, there are several ways caregivers can combat these feelings, even before they begin to creep in.
How Caregivers Can Combat Burnout
Accept the help. When you are in your routine, it can be hard to accept the support that you need. When someone offers to give you an hour to run errands, lie down or relax by yourself, take it. No one can do it all, and even just a short time away can give you the opportunity to reset and recharge.
Practice self-care. Even if it is just a quick walk around the block, taking a little time out of your day to dedicate to yourself can allow your mind and body to relax. Even finding an app such as Pacifica, Headspace or Mindfulness daily can help you practice a few moments of self-care, all right from your phone.
Find a support group. Finding a group of people who understand the stress, struggles and responsibilities of caregiving can create a safe, judgment-free environment to share your feelings. There are many support groups out there for caregivers, including The Caregiver Action Network, The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, The Alzheimer’s Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
This holiday season, remember to reach out to the caregivers in your life. If you are a caregiver and are feeling the effects of caregiver burnout, your local senior advisor is here to help. Whether you are searching for the perfect senior living community, in-home support or adult day services, Oasis Senior Advisors can provide you with the tools and resources you need to find options, completely free of charge. To find your local senior advisor, please call (888) 455-5838.