A caregiver commits to caring for someone else. The role of a caregiver can be paid or unpaid. Today when you hear the word caregiver, it usually means that family members or friends care for older adults experiencing health problems. A caregiver’s job can be a short-term or a lifelong commitment. Family and friends who take on the role of caregiver soon find out that the job can become overwhelming. When this happens, a caregiver’s physical and emotional state might become an issue. Therefore, the caregiver must avoid burnout and take the necessary steps to prevent caregiver fatigue.
Common Causes of Caregiver Fatigue
Unlike a social worker or home health care professional, a caregiver receives little, if any, training. The responsibility of a caregiver involves helping the care receiver with their daily living activities. Some of these activities alone can cause a caregiver physical problems because of a lack of training. For example, a caregiver can throw out their back from improperly lifting the care receiver. Should these types of accidents become a problem, reaching out to a local area agency for low-cost or no-cost training might eliminate this possibility.
In addition to little or no training, caregivers can become emotionally overwhelmed because of the many daily activities performed to care for your loved one. A few of those responsibilities include:
- helping the care receiver get dressed and undressed daily
- assisting the care receiver with bathing, grooming, and toileting
- keeping their surroundings clean, which involves housekeeping
- Preparing their meals and managing their medications
- Scheduling doctors’ appointments and transporting them to said appointments
- managing their financial needs, including paying bills, banking, etc.
These are just a few responsibilities caregivers carry out daily. A caregiver who juggles these responsibilities and attempts to take care of their own personal responsibilities will soon show signs of caregiver burnout.
Steps to Prevent Caregiver Fatigue
- Caregivers must take the necessary steps to prevent caregiver burnout. The symptoms of caregiver burnout or caregiver fatigue are easily recognizable. A few of those symptoms include sleep problems, becoming easily irritated or frustrated with the care receiver, stress eating or not eating, which causes weight gain or weight loss, and falling into a state of depression. The percent of caregivers experiencing fatigue or other stressors like these is as much as 32 percent. A few steps you can take to eliminate the possibility of developing caregiver fatigue are:
- Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or can’t perform an activity such as transferring your care receiver from a wheelchair to a bathtub or shower safely.
- Seek support from a caregiver support group.
- Saying “no” is perfectly acceptable, according to The Family Caregiver Alliance
To find help for situations like these, search your local area agency on aging. This organization helps caregivers find assistance in their area based on their zip code. Another great agency to reach out to is The National Alliance for Caregiving. This resource offers online education, training, and support for caregivers and their care receivers. Caregivers should reach out to these agencies whether they are experiencing caregiver fatigue or not. The use of these agencies is a great way to start being proactive in preventing caregiver fatigue.
Besides reaching out for help, caregivers can utilize tools like bathroom safety rails, slip-resistant floor mats, bed rails, gait belts, or handy handles. These devices assist caregivers and their care receivers. Safety rails and slip-resistant floor mats provide protection from accidental slips and falls in the bathroom, and gait belts or handy handles assist caregivers with lifting care receivers. These helpful tools increase the feeling of independence for the care receiver while at the same time eliminating a little bit of stress for the caregiver.