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Family Caring for Family at Home? How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

While many grown older children juggle a lot of balls these days, those providing care for their elderly loved ones at home often feel like they’re juggling knives or flaming torches trying to take care of their parents and their own children at the same time. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times and guilty when you’re responsible for caring for a loved one, whether that person is your spouse, a parent or even a grandparent.

Guilt can manifest in many ways. You may feel like you’re not spending enough quality time with your loved one. You feel guilty because you’re considering an assisted living facility for him or her. Or you might feel guilty when your loved one’s dementia-fueled behaviors cause you to snap. You could also feel guilty about neglecting your own children's needs in order to care for your loved one.

Under circumstances like this, keep in mind that you can only do so much and that some-times there just isn't any way to make the situation better. Let’s take a closer look at this statement. First: You’re doing the best you can. You probably agree, but do you believe it? If you begin to feel guilty about not spending more time or energy taking care of your elderly loved one, just remember:

  • I am doing the best I can.

  • My loved one appreciates me, even if he or she can’t or won’t say so.

  • Mistakes will happen.

  • I can’t control or fix the past, but I can control how I feel about it.

  • I am doing all I can.

Consider posting these affirmations on notes around the house, perhaps on the refrigerator or inside a cabinet you access often. If there’s a particular statement you really like, use the calendar app on your cell phone to schedule it as a daily reminder.

Second: It’s fine to seek assistance, whether it’s professional help through a home care agency like ours or from relatives, friends, or your loved one’s friends.

Let’s start with your loved one’s network of friends. Many times, people will make the offer: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” But how often do we accept that offer? Your mother’s friends from the neighborhood probably would love to help, but they might hold back if they fear stepping on your toes. Contact them and ask for specific assistance. “Can you come sit with Mom every Thursday for one hour?” You will probably be surprised by how willing people are to help you — they just need to know what you need.

Siblings and other relatives living in close proximity to the senior might also just need to be asked. Remember, if you can receive help for even a few small weekly tasks, you will feel less overwhelmed. Maybe Uncle Joe can take Dad to his weekly physical therapy sessions, or Cousin Amanda can accompany Grandma to church. If siblings and other relatives live far away, ask them to handle tasks that can be done over the phone or online, such as researching a list of adult daycare facilities or looking for the most affordable pharmacy for your parent’s prescriptions.

Or possibly look into getting help from a professional home-care agency such as AAging Better In-Home Care. We can often assist in small or large ways with senior care services, such as:

  • Meal planning and preparation

  • Respite care (companion care that gives you a break from your loved one)

  • Transportation to appointments, shopping and events

  • Light housekeeping

  • Companionship

  • Specialized care for persons with dementia

  • Connections to community resources and caregiver support groups

Home care companies can be a partner with you as you walk this caregiving journey with your loved one. Our trained nurses or caregivers can provide your loved one with services ranging from skilled nursing care each day to any of the services listed above, including tasks like maintaining good hygiene, medication management and laundry. Our kind, caring professionals will make sure your loved one gets the help he or she needs. Call us any time at 208-777-0308 (Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls) or 208-263-7889 (Sandpoint) to find out more about how we can help.

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