As your loved one's guardian, you're most likely this person's primary caregiver. While this is an essential role to fill, many family caregivers find themselves overburdened with daily responsibilities, from help with grooming to meal preparation and virtually everything in between. This can lead to a condition known as caregiver burnout, which impacts your health and well-being when left unchecked. The Cleveland Clinic explains why burnout happens and what you can do to avoid it.
The primary reason for caregiver burnout is lack of assistance. Perhaps you can't afford respite care or the rest of your family are unwilling to help care for your loved one. This puts an unbelievable strain on the primary caregiver, who may sacrifice her own health and well-being to ensure her loved one is being properly cared for. A person may also assume full responsibility for providing care, and may even turn away help when it's offered. It can also be disheartening to watch a person you love suffer from a devastating illness.
Many caregivers naturally assume that their assistance will improve the life of the person in their care. However, this is not necessarily the case when it comes to progressive illnesses. At some point, you may need to seek placement in a nursing home, especially if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer's or another degenerative illness. This is a heartbreaking notion, even though it may be in the best interest of your relative. Caregiver burnout causes depression, irritability, thoughts of self-harm, or even apathy when your responsibilities pile up to the point of your undoing.
Taking steps to prevent caregiver burnout helps you, but it also ensures your loved one receives quality care. If you need help, consult with your loved one's doctor about resources in your area. If cost is an issue, you may be able to secure help on a volunteer basis or at a very low cost. If you have sympathetic friends and family, don't be afraid to ask them to lend a hand so you can have time for yourself. Make sure you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in moderate physical activity. You can also seek out a local support group, which puts you in touch with people in a similar situation.