When taking care of aging parents, family caregivers can experience a lot of frustration and stress.
This is compounded when the parent is suffering from dementia in addition to the physical challenges of old age. It is all too easy for a family caregiver to focus on an elderly person’s care at the expense of their own health and wellness. When family caregivers don’t get respite from their duties, they can develop caregiver burnout, which is a specific type of chronic stress.
How Caregiver Burnout Develops
It’s easy for family caregivers to take on the burdens of caregiving all alone. Dementia can affect an elderly person’s perceptions so that they don’t do well with many other people. They may be demanding and manipulative as well, making it hard for the family caregiver to get some respite. Many family caregivers also feel guilty about wanting a break or some time away from their aging parent. Worry about the aging parent’s health and safety often keep family caregivers from doing their own things.
There are many symptoms of caregiver burnout that family caregivers need to recognize. Among the most common are insomnia, mood swings, lack of focus and anxiety. Other symptoms include social withdrawal, anxiety, weight loss or gain, alcohol abuse and depression. Over time, chronic stress can affect the body, leading to poor health and a weaker immune system. When the family caregiver isn’t happy or healthy, they cease being a very good caregiver to their aging relative with dementia.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout
Seniors with dementia are very demanding and it can be very emotionally draining to deal with them. Family caregivers need to focus on themselves as much as they do on their elderly mom and dad. It all starts with a healthy diet and plenty of sleep. Regular exercise and activity is important to staying healthy at any age or stage of life, but especially as someone who is caring for the elderly.
Family caregivers must be able to step away from their elderly parents for a while to take care of things in their own lives, from shopping and appointments to interacting with their own children and their spouse. Engaging in social activities with friends and family can help rejuvenate a caregiver’s body and mind as well. Hobbies, errands, community events and more all deserve time and attention from a family caregiver.
Because regular respite is so important for family caregivers who are dealing with relatives with dementia, many turn to home care agencies for help.
A reputable home care agency should have home care aides that are experienced in working with seniors with dementia. The home care aides can bathe, dress and groom the senior, plus do some housekeeping, meal prep and laundry. They can come at regularly scheduled times during the week, giving the family caregiver a chance to make plans and take some valuable time for themselves.
It’s difficult to watch an elderly mom or dad struggle with dementia, and family caregivers do an amazing job of looking out for their physical and emotional needs. However, caregivers can’t ignore their own health, either. Home care assistance may be the best way for family caregivers to avoid caregiver burnout and stay strong for their aging parent.
If you are considering hiring Elder Care in Westland, MI, contact the caring staff at No Place Like Home Health, LLC today. Call (734) 259-4200.