When I used to work in hospice, I would meet several families and patients. As you can imagine, many of the patients that are enrolled in hospice are unable to care for themselves any longer. Because of that, they have caregivers. Caregivers range from family members to hired trained staff such as nurses aids. Caregivers in this traditional sense are individuals that assist people with activities of daily life or "ADLs" and iADLs that include anything from preparing food to bathing.
Family members that live with the patient such as an adult daughter caring for an elderly or terminally ill parent may not have the same luxuries as a hired care giver when it came to "going home from the job" so to speak.
As a result, a caregiver may experience physical, emotional, and/or mental exhaustion which if not addressed may lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, and additional stress. During my work in hospice and even in the hospital setting when discussing a patient's discharge plan from the hospital, I have come across this several times. A family member who serves as a patient's caregiver while still also serving as a daughter, son, grandchild, cousin, etc.
I noticed that this special population of individuals are going "unnoticed" and society isn't recognizing the particular stress and depression they are experiencing. It is so important that caregivers get respite care for themselves and get the mental health attention they need to continue to care not only for their patients, but also for themselves. The following are just some symptoms of caregiver stress:
- Less energy
- Less sleep
- Neglecting your own health
A way to beat caregiver burnout head on is to be mindful of the symptoms and warning signs and talk to someone. In my practice, I specialize in caregiver burnout. Talking it out with someone helps take off some of the weight off your shoulders. Local support groups also help by connecting you with other caregivers and sharing common experiences. You can find local caregiver support groups in your area or by contacting a private practice who may be able to share resources with you.
Most importantly, you are not alone in this! You are doing great and you have a support network out there to give you respite!
Thank you for talking it out with me,