102 Caregiver Burnout: How to Manage Stress PLUS 3 Things to Do TODAY that HELP! Dementia CAREGIVER Series

102 Caregiver Burnout: How to Manage Stress PLUS 3 Things to Do TODAY that HELP! Dementia CAREGIVER Series In this video, learn to recognize caregiver burnout and find strategies to cope. Plus, my 3 L's for Avoiding Burnout In the first place!

How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout...

In today's post, you will learn to recognize caregiver burnout and find strategies to cope. Plus, I will teach you my 3 L’s for Avoiding Burnout In the first place!

We all know when we are stressed, right? We are usually tired, moody and craving comfort...food, wine or 6 days of sleep! Things seem to be magnified: tiny irritations become formidable foes. We have physical symptoms of headaches or stomach issues. We may be anxious and cry at the drop of a hat. Or we may feel lonely and isolated. These and other mental or emotional health problems emerge and we feel, well, OVERWHELMED.

I hear you. I see you. I FEEL you! Caregiving is HARD, folks. Caregiving fits the formula for chronic stress so well that it is used as a model for studying the health effects of chronic stress. In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, they define caregiver stress as such: "Caregiving has all the features of a chronic stress experience: It creates physical and psychological strain over extended periods of time, is accompanied by high levels of unpredictability and uncontrollability, [and] has the capacity to create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships..." 

Wow. So, yeah...this is NOT just "in your head". You are SO stressed that doctors and nurses and social workers STUDY the kind of strain you are under and try to formulate policies and procedures to address your stress!

So how do you know when that CHRONIC stress is headed to Caregiver BURNOUT?  First, it is a step beyond chronic stress. It is a state of physical, emotional, and mental EXHAUSTION that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive to negative. From caring to unconcerned.

Are you experiencing any of the following?

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications

These are extreme feelings and need to be addressed sooner rather than later by making an appointment with your family doctor, talking to a therapist, or seeking other medical advice. 

How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout in the first place...

There are many strategies for dealing with chronic stress which are supremely helpful. There are tons of articles that address those strategies and are readily available through a simple Google search. For our purposes, I wanted to dilute them down to the 3 I find most helpful:

  • Laugh
  • Learn
  • Linger

LAUGH

Watching videos on YouTube or reading humorous authors...listening to funny podcasts or talking to an old friend and recounting funny stories...anything that makes you laugh, DO MORE OF THAT! Laughter is healing! Many studies support this, and I personally find it helps in a multitude of ways! It lends a realistic perspective to how we see the world. We do not need to be serious all the time! Yes, we are dealing with heavy stuff as caregivers. Sometimes, we just need to lighten up our mood! Laughing makes a big difference. (Go watch Funny Cat Videos on YouTube and see if you don't feel better!)

LEARN

Educating yourself about whatever acute or chronic condition your loved one is facing can make you feel competent, and therefore confident, in your caregiver role. This can mitigate those feeling of helplessness, worry, and fear that accompany facing the unknown. As much as possible, DEFINE what you need to know, and study up! Join a local OR online support group (I have a free one on Facebook for dementia caregivers here) and link up with other people who are facing your same struggles. There is a TON to be learned from others on a similar journey!

LINGER

Uhm, this means SLEEP! (I needed an L word to make this easy to remember...forgive me!) Getting enough sleep is PARAMOUNT to good health, for everyone, especially caregivers! You have a lot going on and skimping on sleep will only compound whatever stressor you are facing. Google studies on sleep in your spare time...no, scratch that. SLEEP in your spare time! Sleep is healing and restorative. Do whatever you need to do to get enough sleep. Don't know how? Drop me a comment below and I will help you figure out some strategies! 

Thanks for your kind attention! I hope you found something useful here for your caregiver journey! I look forward to connecting with you all around social media! Find the ways to link up below!

Love, joy, and GRACE!!

Vicky

Follow My Instagram Feed For Daily Quotes, Tips And Behind The Scenes With Contessa, My Rag Doll Cat. She Thinks She Is My Assistant. (She Is Not My Assistant. Don't Tell Her, It Would Break Her Heart...)

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How: An Inside Peek of the Development of Dementia With GRACE

I have thought of writing about my experiences in the dementia care giving world for some time. I had NO IDEA it would bloom into what it is becoming! A book on the way, a vibrant online caregiver community, and a series of videos for YouTube that allows me to reach people in all corners with my knowledge, experience and love of dementia care giving. I hope I am making a difference for a community who is sometimes misunderstood, maligned and marginalized: both the people with a dementia disease AND the people who care for them.

I began my career in Social Work in 1993 in a place as far away from Geriatrics as you can get: Child Support Social Work! Yes, I was helping people and making a difference, but I wanted to work with the elderly population! During my Practicum for my college degree, I had worked in a skilled nursing facility, better known as a nursing home, and I fell in love. I loved listening to the stories of these people!! After working with several people diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I became absolutely fascinated with the disease. I wanted to know more, to understand better. I saw residents who were often lost in their own world and were often times worse off after an "intervention" with them that we had found them. 

I knew there had to be a better way.

My first opportunity to make a difference for these people came when I was offered a job at a skilled nursing facility in 1994. I was beyond thrilled to go to work everyday and interact with these engaging people, with and without a dementia diagnosis. They began to teach me so much. Some were charming and lovely, while others were feisty, outspoken, opinionated...and they were my favorite! I saw them as people who had needs, like all of us; not as a list of diagnosis's that had to be managed. I worked with professional caregivers who also understood that dynamic. Together we learned how to make lives better for the people we served by seeing them as individuals who needed personalized care. All of the tips, tricks and techniques I have learned were learned on the front lines of care giving. Down in the "trenches", so to speak, getting in there and failing and succeeding and caring and trying. Never giving up even in the most difficult of circumstances. Advocating and championing for these people taught me deeper compassion. Deeper connection. Deeper CARE GIVING.

I am still learning on a daily basis how to be a better care giver. And what I learn, I want to share with whomever will listen. I believe in the basics: love and joy and making a positive difference in the lives of everyone you come across. In the words of Rumi; "We are all just walking each other home".

Wishing you love and joy,

Vicky

Follow My Instagram Feed For Daily Quotes, Tips And Behind The Scenes With Contessa, My Rag Doll Cat. She Thinks She Is My Assistant.

(She Is Not My Assistant. Don't Tell Her, It Would Break Her Heart...)

My 5 Guiding Principles for Dementia Caregiving

These are the Five Guiding Principles I use while caring for people with dementia, whether or not I am dealing with someone with behaviors. These principles apply across the caregiving spectrum, from beginning stages to the end stages.

1)      There is ALWAYS something in the SOUL of a person, at whatever stage they are living through, that can respond to connection, relationship and love. There is ALWAYS something to build on. ALWAYS something to honor.

2)      Most problem behaviors occur secondary to an UNMET NEED. Meet the need, fix the problem.

3)      YOU need to be the calmest person in the room! A person in the throes of dementia cannot always control their response to what is happening. YOU can! It is a skill that CAN be mastered!!

4)      There is no one PERFECT way to be a caregiver. There are 100’s of ways to be a good one.

5)      Make time for YOURSELF! An hour a day, a day a month, a week a year!


Follow My Instagram Feed for Daily Quotes, Tips and Behind the Scenes with Contessa, my Rag Doll Cat. She thinks she is my assistant. (She is not my assistant. Don't tell her, it would break her heart...)