Caregiving for an elderly parent puts strain on your family and your personal well-being. It is easy to burn out because of all the demands. So take note of your behavior and feelings and look for these signs of burn-out:
- Your energy levels are so low you feel constantly depleted.
- Your immune system is compromised, and you find yourself catching everything the kids expose you to—colds, viruses, etc.
- Despite regular sleep, you feel exhausted most of the day.
- You stop taking care of yourself because there is simply no time.
- You find yourself feeling resentful toward your daily responsibilities and the person who needs care.
- You can’t relax because your mind is in overdrive and there is too much to do.
- You are irritable and snapping at people.
If you find yourself checking off most of this list, it is time to take action and stop trying to do everything by yourself. You probably need help and support.
To begin, explore caregiving services in your community. There may be day programs, meal preparation, “baby sitting,” and transportation help that could give you breaks.
If your loved one is a Veteran, there are multiple services available that are free or require a small co-pay. Check the Veterans’ home health care services.
Most communities also have an Area Agency on Aging that provides information and services. In addition, fraternal organizations like the Elks and Moose Lodges often offer phone check-ins, home visits, and transportation in exchange for a small donation. Finally, churches and local senior citizen groups can also offer occasional relief.
You are too important to all your family members to become a victim of burnout, so watch for the signs and get needed support.
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, professor, author, & national speaker. She answers questions in the print version of ParentLife and on ParentLife Online each month in “Real Life Solutions.”