Joan Lunden’s Camp Reveille may have adjourned for the summer, but many caregivers have learned the importance of taking care of themselves. Senior Living Advisor Sara Dannettel shares some helpful caregiving insight she gained from Gail Migliozzi’s “Caring for the Caregiver” breakout session.
By: Sara Dannettel
As a Senior Living Advisor with A Place for Mom, I talk with caregivers daily and gain insight into their lives as a caregiver to an aging loved one. While each family experience is unique, the common threads that weave them together are the stress they carry as they work so hard to help another—and the fact that by doing so they have de-prioritized taking good care of themselves.
While attending Joan Lunden’s Camp Reveille, I had the great opportunity to attend a session hosted by Gail Migliozzi, Owner and Consultant of Fitness for Life Coaching, on the topic of “Caring for the Caregiver.” Gail summed it up quite well when she said, “Caring for others day in and day out leaves little energy for taking care of ourselves, and the ongoing demands can result in cumulative stress, burnout and even compassion fatigue.” While I was aware of the negative health impacts of prolonged stress, I entered the session thinking “stress was stress” but learned that when stress continues unabated, the side effects and health concerns can become more concerning. A few red flags that stress is taking its toll include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mentally and physically tired
- Compulsive behaviors
- Isolation from others
Caring for the Caregiver:
Recognizing the Signs of Burnout
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s time to focus some of your energy on yourself. Here are five quick tips we discussed on how to implement some helpful changes to your daily routine, which can help reduce feelings of stress:
- Take a few minutes each day to calm your mind and let go of unhealthy thoughts. Close your eyes and ask yourself the following questions: What do I hear? What do I see? What do I smell? What do I taste? How do I feel? By focusing your mind and energy on answering these questions, you should feel more calm, centered and in control.
- Think about the activities that you do, or used to do, that bring joy into your life and recharge you. Set a goal for yourself to do one of these activities within the next week and stick to that plan.
- Think of a time when you were successful handling a stressful situation. What was it you did that was so helpful? Try implementing the same technique again when feeling stressed over overwhelmed.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Some good indicators that the changes you’ve made to help you cope with the stress of being a caregiver, include:
- You think different thoughts
- You feel different thoughts
- You gravitate toward different types of people (more positive influencers than negative)
- You gain the ability to recognize and interrupt negative thoughts
- You feel more balanced
Taking a Step Back
If you are a caregiver it’s important to step back and try to look at your situation from an outside perspective. If you are feeling stressed or have caregiver guilt, you need to make changes so that you don’t get caregiver burnout or worse—get sick. Reach out to family, friends or your caregiver community for help and arrange a respite stay or adult day to give yourself a break. Sanity is precious—keep that in mind.
Have you experienced caregiver burnout? What tips do you have to share with our readers? We welcome comments below.
About Sara Dannettel
Senior Living Advisor, Serving: Phoenix, AZ
Sara has helped over 8,000 families since 2008
Phone: (866) 333-2609 or (623) 428-8914
Sara has enjoyed a successful career in sales, marketing, and management. She has also volunteered extensively in the non-profit sector as well. Sara feels that A Place for Mom is a company where a passion for helping others, hard work, and integrity, come together seamlessly.
A message from Sara:
“No one ever dreams of having to place a loved one in a facility, but in the world of caregiving, this is often a reality. Not only is the person with dementia aging, but the caregiver is aging as well and being able to provide an increasing level of care over many years may not be possible. Planning ahead, visiting different facilities, and listening to other caregiver’s opinions will give the caregiver a greater sense of control when and if the time for placement should arise. Do not wait for a crisis to occur.”