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Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday , June 22 , 2020

Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Being a family caregiver is stressful and demanding at any time. But now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers are navigating uncharted waters.

The already difficult role has taken on new dimensions, as they must consider things like strict hygiene measures and social isolation.

Now, more than ever, caregiver burnout is a real possibility.

If you find that your own health and well-being are impacted by being a caregiver during this difficult time, keep reading.

We’ll give some tips on caring for your loved ones during the pandemic – and some tips for caring for you, too.

Caring for an Older Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Caregiving is always a challenging role, but during the coronavirus outbreak, there is even more to consider. First and foremost: The health and wellbeing of you and your loved one. During this time, it is essential to take extra measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Here are a few tips from Sunrise Senior Living: 

  1. Wash hands frequently: One of the best ways to prevent sickness is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water throughout the day. This guidefrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines a 5-step process for proper handwashing.

  1. Use hand sanitizer: While hot water and soap will always be the best option, hand sanitizer can help when you are out in public and don’t have access to a restroom. Choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

  1. Don’t touch your face: Most people don’t realize how many times an hour they touch their face until they try not to do so. A quick rub of the eye or a scratch on the nose happens more often than you think. If you’ve been exposed to a virus and have it on your hands, touching your face can easily transfer the bug.

  1. Take good care: A healthy diet combined with exercise and a good night’s sleep help keep your immune system strong. That’s vital for fighting off viruses of all kinds.

  1. Limit public activity: Social distancing is another important step in protecting a senior family member from COVID-19 and other viruses. To the extent that you can, avoid going out in public while viruses are spreading. Utilize services like home delivered meals, drive-through pharmacies, and online shopping wherever possible.

  1. Screen all visitors:Be vigilant about limiting who can visit your home or the home of your loved one during this time. People who are out in public may be carrying the virus and not showing any symptoms. By allowing others into your home, you are placing yourself and your loved one at risk.

  1. Explore virtual physician visits: If a senior has a routine medical appointment scheduled, call the physician’s office. Many doctors are moving to virtual visitsuntil the pandemic is under control.

Taking Care of Yourself

Burnout is always a risk for someone in a caregiving role, but these days, it’s more likely to occur than ever before.

Duties related to COVID-19, like those listed above, add a lot onto the caregiver’s already-full plate. On top of any regular daily activities, it can be a lot to handle.

How do you know if you’re experiencing burnout? According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. People experiencing burnout may feel cynical, impatient, fatigued, or disillusioned.

And unfortunately, it’s not just the caregiver that suffers. Those experiencing burnout may have a difficult time engaging with others and, as a result, unintentionally neglect their duties.

There are a lot of things you can do to help prevent burnout from occurring, from meditation to regular exercise, but taking a break is hands-down one of the best things you can do.

That’s where respite care comes in.

What is Respite Care?

ComForCare and other similar companies offer a service called respite care. Respite care, in a nutshell, is a way for family caregivers to have a little time to themselves.

Respite care is offered in a variety of ways: You can take a break for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks. By taking a break, you will become less stressed, better rested, and better able to perform your caregiving duties. 

It’s important to preserve your own well-being in order to be at your best when caring for your loved one. Reach out today to find out how ComForCare can help: (908) 927-0500.

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Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Monday , May 4 , 2020

Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Self-care is always essential for caregivers, but even more so during periods of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the ongoing illness ravaging the country, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care to those in need. And while the everyday demands of caring for a loved one is already a fulltime job, it’s even more challenging when trying to cope with an infectious disease.

During this difficult time, caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own health and well-being. This helps avoid the risk of caregiver burnout as well as reducing the likelihood of transmission.

Here are some tips for conscientious caregiving in the age of COVID-19.

Reduce the Likelihood of Transmission

As a caregiver, your number one concern is likely for the health and safety of your loved one. To help keep both of you well, follow CDC guidelines for personal hygiene:

To help stop the spread of germs:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw used tissues in the trash
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands
  • Wash hands frequently, especially
    • Before, during, and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After touching garbage

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19-related news in your area – but don’t obsess over it. Constantly checking your social media feed or the local news can be mentally draining and increase stress. Choose a time each day to catch up on relevant information and don’t look at it otherwise.

Make time for self-care

Your loved one’s well-being relies on your ability to take care of yourself and stay well. To keep yourself healthy and fit:

  • Eat balanced meals on a regular schedule
  • Maintain a regular sleep routine
  • Fit in exercise whenever possible
  • Find opportunities to relax
    • Take a walk around the block
    • Go for a drive
    • Try gardening
    • Take small breaks and read
    • Check out a new recipe
  • Try meditation
    • Many apps, like Headspace, can help with relaxation and sleep

Stay connected

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing. It IS possible – and recommended – to maintain your social connections despite not being able to see each other in person.

  • Reach out to friends and family for regular chats and wellness checks
  • Consider spending time together virtually – watch a movie together or play an online board game
  • If you live with loved ones, figure out ways you can have fun together, rather than just falling prey to the doldrums of isolation

Watch for signs of burnout

Caregiver burnout can happen in any situation, but it’s far more likely during periods of high stress. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overwhelming anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks

Final thoughts

Though it may be difficult right now, make time for yourself whenever possible. Caregiving can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting – and if you are not well, you can’t care for another.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and reach out if you feel like you need some outside support.

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Family Caregiver Burnout During the Holidays

Tuesday , December 24 , 2019

Family Caregiver Burnout During the Holidays

How does that old Christmas song go? It’s the most hectic time of the year?

No?

Well, we think that maybe that’s the way it should go!

The holidays can be stressful under the best of circumstances. There are gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate. Most people feel frazzled this time of year.

For family caregivers, the stress can be overwhelming.

In addition to the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the regular day-to-day obligations of work and family, they also have the added pressure of tending to a loved one who can’t properly care for themselves.

According to a survey by AARP, 7 in 10 family caregivers say it is emotionally stressful to care for loved ones during the holiday season. Still, many of them feel positive about the holidays: It feels good to be useful and it’s rewarding to care for those you love.

If you are a caregiver and you’d like to minimize holiday burnout (and maximize holiday joy!), we have a few suggestions that can help. Keep reading to learn how to relax more and stress less during this hectic season:

Go in (Mentally) Prepared

Now that you’re a family caregiver, don’t expect the holidays to be the same as they were in the past. As your older loved ones continue to age, traditions and celebrations will likely need to change.

This doesn’t have to be a disappointment.

It may be true that your mother can no longer cook the Christmas ham, or your dear uncle can no longer take part in the annual gift exchange – but accepting these changes is in the best interest of both you (the caregiver) and your loved one.

Fighting the inevitable and trying to force issues just for the sake of “tradition” can add more stress for everyone involved. Instead, why not create new rituals that work well for everyone involved?

Be Aware of Limitations

There can be a fine line between “fun” and “stressful” – and although caregiver burnout can occur at any time of year, it’s particularly common during the holidays.

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and other holidays are usually a time to celebrate with family, but for those caring for an older loved one, celebrations are often just one more responsibility on their already overflowing plate.

Unfortunately, a caregiver is a person who just never seems to get a break – and the holidays are no different. In fact, the added commitments of the holiday season can make those times even more stressful than normal (even though they’re supposed to be “happy” days).

The end result? Overwork, depression, and guilt can lead to a caregiver’s breakdown.

As a caregiver, it is important to remember to create small moments of “me time,” no matter how busy you become. While that may seem like an impossible task, there are ways to make yourself a priority (even if you only have minutes a day).

Know How to Identify Stressors

Fact: Not every person is stressed out by the same things. For some people, it might be crowds or loud noises. For others, it might be having too many things on their to-do list and not enough time.

Being aware of what makes you go over the proverbial edge can help you avoid those situations altogether.

Think about the things that you do during your day and how acting as a caregiver adds stress. What sets you off?

Is it:

  • Worrying that your older loved one’s needs aren’t being met?
  • Feeling concerned that you aren’t meeting the needs of your spouse and children?
  • Agonizing that you are neglecting your duties at your day job?
  • Feeling like you can’t get everything done?
  • Not having enough time to yourself?

Once you know what your triggers are, you can start looking for solutions.

Ask for Help

You took on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, but that doesn’t mean it has to be your responsibility alone.

As a primary caregiver, you may feel like you can’t ask others for help: Maybe you don’t want to be a burden yourself or you don’t want to appear irresponsible. But other family members and friends are often happy to help if given the opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to loved ones when you need a break – even those that live out-of-town.

During the holidays, it is likely that relatives will be in town to visit. These are people who likely haven’t seen their older family member in months (or more) and might be eager to have some alone time.

Use that as an opportunity to head out and spend some time on you, whether it’s just a quick trip to pick up some takeout or an appointment for a long-overdue haircut.

Adjust Holiday Celebrations

The best thing you can do to avoid holiday burnout? Know that you can’t do it all.

This may mean making changes to your normal holiday routine, but that’s ok. Here are some suggestions:

  • Tweak holiday meals: Cooking a holiday feast can be a time-consuming process. Don’t be afraid to buy pre-made meals from a local supermarket or restaurant. In the end, it’s not the food that matters – it’s spending time with family.
  • Don’t stress about decorations: Don’t have time to put up Christmas lights this year? Trust us: No one will even notice. Put out the decorations that are personally meaningful and leave the rest for another time.
  • Be flexible with shopping: Take advantage of Amazon and other online retailers to shop stress-free at your own convenience – there’s no need to find the time to actually browse the shelves at a crowded shopping mall.
  • Ask loved ones to come to you: The holidays are often filled with endless running around from one celebration to the next. This year, ask friends and loved ones to come to you to help limit your stress.
  • Take a break: It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. Don’t forget to take some downtime when you need it and let people know if you’re not up to a visit or a party. They WILL understand.

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