Caring for another person is not only a stressful job but can lead to unwanted physical and mental symptoms for the caregiver themselves. What is caregiver burnout? Caregiver burnout (a.k.a. caregiver stress or syndrome) is a term used by many healthcare professionals to describe a stressful job that can lead to physical and mental fatigue but is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Many of these caregivers are the primary source of care for patients, family members, and loved ones and their physical/mental deterioration can have negative effects on their patients and family members, as well as any family unit.
The negative effects of being a primary caregiver can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Approximately 66 million Americans provide care for those who are disabled, ill, or elderly for an average of 39.2 hours per week. That’s full-time work!! Being responsible for someone else’s care can create an enormous amount of stress on each caregiver and can lead to caregiver syndrome, otherwise known as caregiver burnout. Some signs of caregiver burnout identified by webMD.com include:
Withdrawal from friends and family
A decline in interest in activities you used to enjoy
Sadness and irritability
Appetite or weight change
An increase in sickness or illness
Irregular sleep patterns
Many of these symptoms are similar to those of depression or stress. An overall sense of emotional and physical exhaustion is common also. What we have to realize is that there are over 13 million caregivers who are also caring for their own children as well and many times caregiver syndrome can be acute in dealing with behavioral problems, memory issues, or even incontinence. This leads to approximately 70% of caregiver suffering from depression. Just imagine how difficult it is to care for someone else when you might be the one in need of care yourself.
How do we help those who help others? In order to not succumb to caregiver stress and burnout, it’s imperative to know that there are ways to combat this disorder. There are ways to minimize stress and combat this burnout and they include:
1. Stress Stop Just Relax CD:
Classical adagios (slow movements) of classical music can create an environment of relaxation. Classical pieces from Bach, Dvorak, and Mahler can elicit the relaxation response and reduce caregiver stress. Incorporated into the relaxing musical pieces of Stress Stop CD are five spoken word exercises that can teach you to breathe consciously and in turn lower your blood pressure, muscle tension, and stress.
2. Thera Cane Self Massager:
Any time there are hard-to-reach sore muscles it can be difficult to effectively massage the area unless there is someone else to help. Thera Cane Self Massager allows you to reach those out of reach areas all by yourself. You can apply pain relieving deep compression to those areas that were inaccessible before. No need to hire a professional masseuse!! Any trigger point is now within your reach to improve circulation and eliminate caregiver burnout/stress.
3. Homecraft Curved Transfer Board:
Many times caregivers are charged with transferring their charges from a wheelchair to either a bed or chair. The potential of a fall can increase stress and this transfer board minimizes that risk. Made from solid, reinforced plastic this transfer board is ideal for a transfer from a wheelchair with fixed armrests and can support up to 336 pounds. In order to increase stability during transfer, Homecraft Curved Transfer Board has a non-slip pad on each end and is tapered to 10 1/8 inches in the middle. This transfer board is even MRI safe!!
4. MTS SafetySure CarEase Transfer Slide:
Caregivers often are required to transport a patient or loved one in a vehicle. For those with limited mobility getting in and out can be difficult, especially rotating their legs in and out of the vehicle. MTS SafetySure CarEase Transfer Slide makes this endeavor simple and easy by minimizing friction. Simply sit and rotate to make egress to and from a seating position comfortable and effortless. This cannot only make the transfer easier for the patient but gives the caregiver peace of mind and can minimize stress.
5. Smart Stand Alone Motion Sensor Fall Monitor:
The stress of constantly monitoring a patient who may have a tendency to wander can increase caregiver stress and burnout. Smart Stand Alone Motion Sensor Fall monitor allows the caregiver to be alerted when whoever is in their care leaves a designated area. With no wires needed, this wireless unit detects movement through the passive infrared signal and alerts caregivers to unwanted movement and has a range of 30 feet. Peace of mind a caregiver can trust to minimize mental stress!!
6. Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil:
Scent can be a powerful stress reducer and Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil has a perfectly balanced floral-herbaceous aroma that proves why it is one of the more popular aromatherapy scents. It’s sweet, fruity aroma has an undertone of herbaceous refreshing balsamic woodiness. The scent provides calmness and refreshing toning and cleansing that can create an environment that combats caregiver stress and burnout. Fight caregiver syndrome with an environment that is conducive to serenity and lower stress.
Being tasked with the immense responsibility of being the primary caregiver of anyone, let alone a family member, can cause a great deal of stress that leads to caregiver burnout. As someone who relies on a family member for their care, I can attest firsthand to the stress that I have burdened my family with. We should do everything in our power to make sure that we do everything in our power in order to support caregivers (family or otherwise) in any way possible. This includes creating a conducive environment to avoid compassion fatigue and caregiver stress.
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
In 2006, ...
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