Thursday, January 7, 2010

Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

A recent article in the American Pain Foundation’s newsletter was entitled “Avoiding Caregiver Burnout”. This title reminded me of my caregivers. They were first my mother, now my husband and soon to be my children.

I thought about these people, who did not ask for the job, and what they must be feeling while I’m in the hospital getting blood and morphine pumped into my veins. They sit in hospital rooms, doctor’s offices and watch while I suffer. Their lives are affected by Sickle Cell Disease as much as mine is.

Before reading the Pain Foundation’s article, I personally imagined that caregiver burnout must surely be a reality for some people dealing with sick family and friends. Working full-time just adds more stress to this situation.

Here’s what the Pain Foundation suggests to reduce caregiver burnout:

  1. Stay positive. Your metal health is just as important as the person who is being cared for.
  2. Balance your life by taking breaks to do hobbies or things you love.
  3. Protect your health. (Put your mask on first, then help others) Get rest, eat well, and take vitamins.
  4. Seek out help. There are support groups and resources for information. Know what you can do and acknowledge what you can’t. (ask for help)
  5. Keep communication open and be patient. Pain affects people differently; they need your patience and kindness.
  6. If people offer help, have a list ready of what needs to be done. (Grocery shopping, help cooking, cleaning the house, or raking the yard.)
There is no shame in asking for help from family members, church members or neighbors. People who see you care for a sick loved one will jump in to help….don’t be afraid to ask