How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

This excerpt from The Caregiver's Companion by Carolyn A. Brent offers 3 ways to stay healthy while caring for a loved one.

Posted in , May 18, 2015

How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

The following is an excerpt from Carolyn A. Brent's new book, The Caregiver's Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself, used with permission.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, the rewards of caring for an aging loved one who is sick or is coming to the end of life are mostly intangible, and often there is no hope for a happy outcome. It can be a long, hard road to travel. Thanks to the perspective I have gained about my caregiving experience, I can now look back and see how stress piled up on me while I was going through my caregiver journey without a road map. You can avoid the frustration, despair and burnout associated with caregiving if you successfully adopt positive coping mechanisms. Put yourself in a position to avoid the very real dangers of burnout by following a few essential guidelines:

Embrace your feelings instead of running from them. Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness and grief. As long as you don't compromise the emotional well-being of the one receiving your care in the process, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel.

Educate yourself as much as possible about your aging loved one's condition so that you won't experience the added strain of not knowing what needs to be done.

Know your limits, that is, how much you can realistically handle as a caregiver. Don't overexert yourself. If possible, ask your immediate family and extended family for help if you feel you are going beyond your limits. Otherwise, seek help in your community, from doctors and from caregiver support groups.

Carolyn A. Brent is a nationally acclaimed author, speaker and caregiver advocate who has dedicated her life to preparing the elderly and their caregivers to face end-of-life issues. She is the founder of Caregiver Story, a nonprofit organization that provides free medical and legal resources to the public, and founder of Grandpa's Dream, a program that provides vital information for the care and welfare of sick and disabled people and supports the mental, physical and emotional well-being of caregivers. She lives in Florida.

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