November is National Family Caregivers Month. We at Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law would like to take time to honor those who provide care to ailing loved ones, and to remind caregivers about the importance of caring for themselves. Caregivers often devote so much time and energy to caring for a loved one that they fall victim to what is known as caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout can be defined as a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that may lead to a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Sadly, many caregivers actually feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than focusing all of their energy on caring for their loved one. If you are serving as the family caregiver, you must understand the difficulty of your role and recognize the signs that you may be approaching burnout, which include:
If you are experiencing feelings like these, and you didn’t feel this way until you began serving as family caregiver, you may be approaching burnout.
So, what can you do about it? First, you must understand that your feelings are not unusual. Caregiver burnout is much more common than you might think. This should come as no surprise given that 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to another adult and providing adequate care requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. Here are some steps you can take if you believe you might be suffering from caregiver burnout:
Support is available from people who understand what you are going through. You’ll find support groups within the community online, in the phone book, through your physician, and from organizations associated with the health problem of the loved one under your care. Good places to start are your local chapter of AARP and agencies such as Family Caregiver Alliance. We can also provide advice on finding the best care situation for you, as well as refer you to outside caregivers. Please give Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law a call at (805)946-1550 to set up a consultation today.