Burnout. It’s one of the most prevalent conditions to affect in home caregivers, whether caring for a family member or independent clients. Mounting stress, increasing anxiety, loss of sleep, rising risk of injury and depression … caregivers can experience a wide range and degree of symptoms due to burnout. However, the good news is caregiver burnout is preventable.
Here are some of the main causes of burnout, and then some accessible remedies to stave it off.
Do you strive for perfectionism? Perfectionism isn’t always a bad thing. In many careers, it can even be directly related to success but, if you’re a professional caregiver, the need to have things perfect in your job is very often unattainable.
Part of striving for perfection is control. In home caregivers often have little control over their patients’ progress and prognosis. No matter how well fed you keep your patients or loved ones, their illnesses in many cases won’t improve. No matter how comfortable you make their living conditions, their struggles with sleep or pain management may not cease.
Another big part of perfectionism is planning. Again, when caring for an ill, injured, or elderly loved one, planning often goes out the door. Although being prepared for emergencies is essential when you’re a caregiver, flexibility is required to eliminate the distress that can come along when things don’t go as planned.
So, how do you prevent burnout caused by the need to be perfect, plan, and control? You make minor adjustments in the only things you really do have control over—your expectations. If your patient takes a turn for the worse in spite of your diligence, don’t take it personally. Remember your daily effort and take that to heart.
If your loved ones don’t recover as quickly as expected, don’t take the blame. Progress often has little to do with the quality of the care. Reflect on what goes well and on the things you feel good about, even if your patients aren’t where you expected them to be. Sometimes the measures of success are incremental.
Are you doing too much? Another common tendency that leads to caregiver burnout is overachievement. Especially when you are caring for a loved one, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do it all. When loved ones are injured or ill, you may find yourselves suddenly caring for their emotional and physical health and managing their financial and other duties.
If you’re also trying to manage your own families, careers, and personal responsibilities, burnout can catch up to you quickly. Again, there’s a fix: Ask for help from other family members, friends, or, better yet, home care professionals.
People need people, and, as a caregiver, an in home care service will help you manage your patient’s care, minimize the toll that caregiving can take, and stave off caregiver burnout. Whether caused by a need for perfectionism or the desire to do it all, burnout is preventable through a combination of self-awareness, checking expectations, and seeking help.