Column: Three helpful tips to avoid burnout as a family caregiver

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Commentary by Patrick Broccolo

The idea of taking care of others is nothing new, but since the start of the pandemic caring for aging parents or family has become even more challenging. To best care for your loved ones, you need to remember that taking time to care for yourself is an important step. Many times, the relationship dynamic changes when family members become caregivers, issues big and small feel more personal, more emotional, and ultimately more stressful.  If you are a primary or secondary caregiver for others in your family, you likely feel overwhelmed and unable to truly step away from your responsibilities. The feeling of burnout can be significant and sometimes you have to chip away at it, a little at a time. Here are three tips that can help move the needle:

– Move Your Body: Taking a walk, practicing yoga, or working out along to a YouTube video can help you not only feel good in the moment but build your strength and boost your mood. Incorporating opportunities throughout the day where you can move your body and get some exercise can really help you feel better all day long.

– Connect with Others: Talking with others can help us feel better, be that a friend, a therapist, or someone in a similar position. Connecting with other people is a great way to get new ideas or possibly learn about other solutions or options that you may not otherwise hear about. There are often plenty of people in our lives who want to help us but may not know that something is wrong, or how they can help. Talking to those people can help you find solutions together.

Rest: Resting is both getting enough sleep and making sure you take breaks. Resting may not always be easy if you are a caregiver, so optimizing the breaks you have can be really valuable. Using a white noise machine, a weighted blanket, or blackout curtains can help make sure you’re getting the most restful sleep you can. Stepping away to take a walk around the block can help give you some quiet moments in an otherwise busy day.

If a car is out of gas it won’t take you where you need to go, the same goes for us too. If we don’t have the energy and personal care we need, we won’t do our best in helping those we love. Taking some time to take care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s essential, and even more important for those who actively take care of others. Hiring someone to clean your house once a month, or an at-home caretaker to look in on your loved one a few hours during the day or overnight sitting can give you the time needed to recharge. Seek help where you can, be kind to yourself, and take care of yourself. We all need help sometimes.

Patrick Broccolo, CNA, is co-owner of Senior1Care, which provides trained, in-home caregivers who assist with dementia care, homemaker and companion services throughout Hamilton and Boone counties. Visit Senior1Care.com for more information.


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