Friday, October 31, 2014

Balancing Life as a Caregiver to Reduce Risk of Burnout

It can be very rewarding to care for your aging parent and give back, knowing you are helping them to live more independently, comfortably, and safely. But it can also be stressful trying to balance your own work and family life with the needs of your loved one and ensure that everything is getting done. Taking on too much responsibility can lead to burnout and leave you less able to provide the care and attention that your loved one needs. Proper planning can help you to achieve better balance without sacrificing your wellbeing or that of others.

Ask for Help

You don’t have to try to do everything on your own. Coordinate with family members or close friends to take turns visiting your senior, taking them grocery shopping, or accompanying them to appointments. If distance or time is an issue, hire in-home care to provide assistance, companionship, and support for your loved one. They can help with a wide variety of tasks to ensure your senior’s safety, wellbeing, and independence. In addition, working with a financial planner can reduce stress when it comes to money management and finances.

Plan Ahead

Coordinate documents for power of attorney and end of life planning before your aging parent’s health declines. This ensures that you know their wishes and have the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf should they become unable to do so on their own. Planning ahead can reduce the stress of decision making and lets your loved one know that they still have a say and their wishes are heard.

Make Time for Yourself

In the midst of planning care for your senior and shuttling your family around, take the time to plan time for yourself. Spend time with your friends, get your hair or nails done, plan a weekend getaway, or engage in other activities that help you to unwind. It is important that you are feeling your best and not overlooking your own happiness in your effort to care for everyone else.

Periodically Reassess Your Senior’s Needs

As time passes, make sure you continue to check in with your aging parent so you can stay on top of their mental and physical health. Make sure that their home is still a safe location and they can get around okay and that the level of support they are receiving meets their needs. You may find that in order to reduce some of the burden you feel, it is necessary to increase the frequency or level of in-home care they receive.  This can help you to feel more confident that they are safe and well taken care of as they age in place and that their needs are being met.

Being a caregiver is a lot of responsibility but it does not have to wear you down. There are many resources available and strategies you can put in place to ensure that your loved one is being cared for while also giving you time to focus on your family and yourself.

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