Good family caregivers are wonderful at looking after loved ones, due to their caring nature and selfless attention to others. Unfortunately, these traits also burn them out if not tempered with self-care and limit-setting. An article on Caring.com addresses five areas in which family caregivers tend to sabotage themselves. By identifying these trouble spots, caregivers are better able to function in their role. The article also offers solutions.
1. Lack of privacy – We all need time to ourselves to let down. Privacy is essential, especially for caregivers living with family members. The article suggests this is difficult when someone has dementia and is unable to understand privacy boundaries.
One solution is to make home renovations to allow for separate space for the older adult, giving family members room to keep normal routines. If not possible, set “house rules” to avoid conflict and space issues.
2. Sleep deprivation – This can occur when the loved one is experiencing “Sundowner’s Syndrome,” which can accompany Alzheimer’s, resulting in confusing day and night. Add this to a sleep-deprived caregiver and it just worsens.
If the older adult is just on a different sleep cycle, address it by eliminating stimulating beverages and activities close to bedtime.
3. “Lone-soldier – The article uses this term, referring to the caregiver trying to do it all. Caring for a senior should include as many resources as possible. Sharing the tasks is also beneficial to the loved one.
Caregiver support groups often act as a lifeline to emotionally and physically exhausted care providers. Talking with people who understand the issues is very reaffirming.
4. Lack of planning – Caregivers are accustomed to putting out fires. Some level of unpredictability in caregiving is expected, but there are situations that could be avoided with planning.
It’s good to have contingency plans and options that include people to help you problem-solve.
5. Difficult health issues – Wandering that happens with dementia and older adults with incontinence are particularly taxing on caregivers. Trying to handle these without support takes a toll.
Consult with the doctor and other healthcare providers for guidance and possible solutions. There are treatments for incontinence and therapies to address wandering.