Avoid Caregiver Burnout!

adrouin December 22nd, 2009, 1:47 PM
Amy Dixon, BSN, RN
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Whether you’re caring for an elderly parent, a significant other with a new diagnosis, or an ill child, you may have already experienced the difficulties of maintaining your own physical and mental health while acting as primary caregiver.

Tips to avoid burnout
If you have the assistance of a regular home health aide or a friend or family member who can allow you to take breaks, take advantage of those moments. Get out of the home to take a walk, or go window shopping. Sit at a local coffee shop to sip some tea. Do anything which encourages relaxation and wellness. Know that it is ok to ask for those breaks too!

What if I’m on my own?
If you are not able to take a period of respite away from the care of your loved one, then you may need to be a little bit more creative in your efforts towards wellness.  Think about times in your day-to-day schedule which may not be as active, perhaps when your family member takes a nap. If you can manage to carve out five or ten minutes a day, use that time for you.

Some suggestions of self-care activities for short spans of time may include journaling. Writing down your feelings can help vent stored-up emotions and may give you a renewed sense of strength.

Or, indulge the senses. Light a fragrant candle of your favorite scent. Lavender is especially known to inspire relaxtion. Drink some chamomile tea which has calming properties.  Listen to a few of your favorite songs. Complete a crossword puzzle. Most of all, do something that helps to relax you.

You can’t care for your loved one if you’re not well yourself.
If you any severe symptoms of stress or burnout such as lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, symptoms of depression or any physical symptoms, (lowered immunity, headaches, back pain, body aches, etc.) then consult your doctor immediately. Never delay your own healthcare as that may be harmful to you and your loved one.

If you’re caring for a loved one who is ill and have some thoughts about avoiding caregiver burnout, I’d love to hear from you! Write me!

Additional resources about caregiver stress and burnout:


  • Last night at 6pm my wife had to take her 84 year-old dad to the emergency room because he had been complaining for a few days of being dizzy – and the at 6pm the doctor’s suggestion was “take him to the ER.” So much for avoiding unnecessary hospitaliztions! Anyway, he was tested and is mostly fine; just vertigo. But, she didn’t get home till 1am, only to find our 16 year-old daughter suffering from unknown but severe stomach cramps. Even though my wife works full time she is off the the doctor now with our daughter…so, I guess she is a primary caregiver who needs to avoid burnout. I know, I should have done the doctor duty this morning but circumstances made it easier for her to do it. Least I can do is bring home some chamomile tea today.

  • Any little bit helps, Michael! Thanks for sharing.

  • [...] Getting assistance early can prevent caregiver burnout. [...]

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