Balancing a multi-age caregiver schedule can be hard. For many family members, this is a brand-new responsibility that they may have little or no prior experience in handling. Family caregiving is a role that most family members step into willingly with the goal to help those they love most, regardless of what is going on in their own lives.
Family caregiving can take many roles! Often, caregivers are uncompensated and are balancing caring for a loved one on top of a full or part-time job. The Sandwich Generation, or those middle age Americans who find themselves caring for a parent and a minor child, also have their hands full with multiple age groups. It can be difficult to balance a schedule when you need to take care of your school-age children in addition to your senior parents.
We know that the stress can be overwhelming no matter how “under control” you have your daily responsibilities. Although it is important to remain focused on the people you are taking care of, it is also crucial to not forget to take care of yourself. Are you at risk of caregiver burnout? Let us share a few signs you need to be aware of.
1. You are more stressed than normal.
If you are more stressed than usual, you are most likely approaching burnout. As a caregiver, your schedule is extremely hectic. While moments of stress are common in everyone’s life, extreme levels of stress are never a good thing. To deal with stress, find a short amount of time each day just for yourself. Whether it be a yoga class, a quick television episode or a bubble bath, a few minutes of calming alone time may be just the fix you need to destress.
2. Increased irritability or shortened attention span.
Are you more annoyed and irritable than normal? Do you have a quick temper and a limited amount of patience? Are you having a hard time focusing on anything? Irritability with your daily routine and everyone around you is a common sign that your caregiving schedule is taking a toll on your emotional state. To deal with these issues, consider talking with a therapist. Your mental and emotional health is just as important as the health of the people you are caring for. It is perfectly normal to become frustrated every once and a while, but it becomes problematic when it begins to take a toll on the people you are caring for.
3. Loss of enjoyment of the things you love.
While loss of enjoyment may go unnoticed at first, watch for when you do notice it. How does it impact you? Is your attitude extending to your care of your family members? If you want to avoid caregiving responsibilities and escape your current daily obligations altogether, this can be another sign of loss of enjoyment and puts you at risk for burnout. Take proactive steps now. One way to find enjoyment in your responsibilities once again is to keep a nightly journal. Each night, write down three moments in your day that you are thankful for and three reasons why you love your family members. If you are ever having a tough day, read through previous entries to remind yourself of all the reasons you love your family members and chose to do this for your family.
In a normal job, burnout may be a sign it is time to change and find a new position. As a permanent caregiver for family members, this is not possible. Your situation, however, does not have to feel like a life sentence. Take time for yourself. Enjoy your family members. Remind yourself of why you love them so much. Remember to take care of your mental and emotional health. Although this period in your life may be stressful, the gift you are giving your family is priceless. Let us know how we can help you today!