How To Prevent Caregiver Burnout When Taking Care Of A Sick Family Member

Caregivers often feel guilty when they start to feel the strain of caring for their sick loved one. It’s perfectly natural to feel the frustrations and stressors that come with taking care of the needs of someone else. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your family member if you start to feel less at ease. It’s also important to understand  you’re not alone. This is an extremely common issue with those caring for sick family members. There are certain ways to help ease the stress and prevent caregiver burnout.  Here are a few to consider:

Seeing A Therapist

Therapists know how to prevent caregiver burnout. They have helped many clients understand how to deal with the stress of their loved one’s disease. A therapist can help a caregiver find time to take care of their own needs, and learn the coping skills they need to handle the stressors that will inevitably come. Talking to a therapist can be extremely useful, regardless of what your loved one’s illness or situation is. Seeing a professional that is a mental health expert may be especially useful if you are taking care of a severely distressed or mentally ill family member. Mental health specialists know the ins and outs of various mental diseases, and can explain it to you and how best to handle it.

Finding Support Groups

There are support groups for those who are acting as a caregiver to family members. These support groups are an excellent place for caregivers to express their feelings without judgement. These groups also allow you to communicate the challenges that come along with caring for a loved one. Especially the ones you may feel ashamed to discuss with family members.  Within support groups, you will find new coping skills and friends. Talking to people who feel the same, or have shared experiences, can be very beneficial.

Understand That You are Human and May Not Be Able To Do This Forever

You may not be able to take care of your loved one’s needs forever. You may be faced with the inevitable possibility of having to put them into assistant living, a nursing home, or hospice care. These types of facilities also need to be considered if your loved one is getting more fragile due to age or illness. They also need to be considered if your health or well being are being endangered by being a caregiver.  

Those taking care of the mentally ill that are too low functioning to live on their own, may need to consider looking into a group home.  The constant demands of time and care can eventually be too much. Mentally ill people who are too low functioning to work but are able to live on their own, can be placed into a disability apartment.

Those taking care of someone battling long term illness like cancer may face difficult treatment decisions and scary ups and downs in health status.  Providing care to cancer patients at home can be particularly difficult with the isolation that comes.  Options like hospice care and in home health aides should be considered seriously and without guilt in these situations.  Remember your health, even your mental health, affects the patient and their recovery t

Take A Break

Putting your loved one in assisted living or a nursing home does not have to be forever. You can place them there for a temporary amount of time until you are able to resume in home care. Many facilities offer short term plans for just this situation.  You can also hire an in-home care assistant for a while, to give yourself a break.

Have Your Loved One Apply For Assistance

Those who are taking care of a mentally or physically ill disabled family member, should encourage their loved one to apply for social security. Frequently they will be eligible for regular payments through this program. This money will help to purchase food, and medical supplies.  It can also help pay excess medical expenses if they are uninsured.

In some states there are also programs where you can get paid to be a caregiver.  If you want to learn more about getting paid to be a caregiver check out our resource HERE.

Create a Support Network

Community organizations like churches and civic organizations can help you recruit support.  These groups can organize individuals to help you.  Get breaks, get errands run, or get someone to keep you company.  Little breaks here and there can add up to a big difference.

Online resources like Medgift.org where you can create a support page to help with every aspect of your situation can also make a big difference.  From medical fundraising to caregiver resources these sites can give you tools you need at any time.

Understand You Do Not Have To Be Perfect

Individuals who know how to prevent caregiver burnout, have learned to accept they don’t have to be the perfect caregiver. It’s okay to make mistakes, because you will. Everyone does.  Take care of loved ones the best you can. That’s all you can actually do as a caregiver.  If you expect more you are setting yourself up for failure.  If you feel you cannot fully or properly handle all the care on your own, get help.

Ask Other Family Members To Help

It’s often too much on one person to handle all the care a person needs.  The responsibility that comes with caring for a sick family member is substantial and frequently overwhelming. Other close relatives should also be involved in the care taking. Parents, siblings, Aunts or Uncles can also help care for the loved one.  Don’t forget to let friends, co-workers, and members of community organizations know what you need also.  They might play a smaller role, but frequently will be happy to do what they can.  Little actions add up.

Take Care to Control your Emotions

When it comes to preventing caregiver burnout, lashing out at a sick family member or calling them a burden will not help. It’s normal to feel heavy, almost explosive frustration when there’s a lot of responsibility on you. But it will only make you feel guilty later and does not help to lash out this way. That guilt will only add to your burden and make you feel worse.  It’s also likely your loved one already feels like a burden without you saying anything.  If you feel you can no longer handle the stress or prevent this reaction, it’s time to remove yourself from the situation.  Find a way to take a temporary break, or place your family member into assisted living.

Accept that it’s Not Easy

This isn’t going to be an easy road, but there will be an end. This will be a stressful experience, but it can also be a rewarding one.  Right now, you need to take care of yourself. That is the only way to ensure you are able to fully and effectively take care of your loved one. It’s time to accept your limitations, and learn how to be the best caregiver you can be. 

Creating a support network and learning the coping skills you’ll need to continue caring for them will only make both of you more successful. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience that can teach you a lot about yourself and create a lifelong bond with your loved one, but only if you set yourself up for success.

We are here to help.  Medgift support pages aren’t just about raising money, they are about finding the support you need to be successful in every aspect of caregiving.  Start a medical support page for yourself and your loved one HERE, or email us any time to let us know how we can help HERE.

Struggling to afford all the support and care you or a loved one in need?

Get The Ultimate Guide to Medical Fundraising here and start finding solutions today. 

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