Palliative Care
January 15th, 2017
by Summit Hospice

One of the problems that can create stress in a home with an older adult who needs extra care each day is caregiver burnout. Family members who are tasked with providing home health care to someone who needs assistance for responsibilities like bathing, cooking, and taking medication can increase the likelihood of a caregiver experiencing illness.

Stress and extra work can lower a person’s ability to fight infections and ward off disease because of a weakened immune system, and the stress that often comes along with caring for an elderly family member can create several problems. Americans give millions of hours in care giving support to their family members without expectation of payment, but all that extra work can prove problematic.

Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

For some individuals, caring for a family member rather than hiring a home health aide is something that only adds a minimum amount of stress and extra work to the caregiver’s day. Perhaps a mother needs some help cleaning around the house each week, or a father needs someone to drive him to weekly doctor’s appointments.

In many instances, the minimal care an older adult needs as he or she ages is something with which a family member can assist without too much trouble. However, as time passes, it might be time to consider assistance from a home health care aide or a company that provides in home supportive services.

Here are some of the signs of stress that may indicate it’s time to seek help outside the family or from an additional family member.

  • Fatigue and exhaustion despite getting enough sleep
  • Insomnia or other sleeping problems
  • Depression and sadness
  • Increases or decreases in weight
  • Resentful comments and feelings
  • An increase in addictive behaviors like drinking
  • Unexplained worry, anger, and anxiety

These problems are all indications of stress, and they can manifest themselves in a variety of circumstances. When a person becomes stressed to the point where they begin to experience health problems, the safety of their loved one may be in jeopardy.

It’s essential for caregivers and their family members to be on the lookout for these signs of stress.

Home Care Requires Self-Care from the Caregiver

In an attempt to ensure the maximum safety and comfort of a family member, a person acting as a home health care helper may not realize that he is failing to take care of himself while spending all his time and energy caring for another person.

There are a variety of methods a caregiver can use to ensure his health, as well as the continued health and safety of a loved one receiving care. If the option for a home health aide isn’t something a family member wishes to consider at the present time, engaging in these stress-reducing projects can help until the time comes to seek professional assistance:

Caregiver support groups – There are support groups for just about every facet of the healthcare process, from terminal disease support groups to support groups for people who have a family member in palliative care or end-of-life care.

Help from additional family members – Becoming a caregiver to someone who needs a significant amount of help each day isn’t something that must be done by a single caregiver. Spreading the responsibilities around to a few different people can help.

Regular health checkups – Anyone tasked with caring for someone else while also holding down a full-time job, going to school, or caring for children should remain vigilant about his or her own health. Regular checkups help keep a caregiver healthy enough to continue to provide care.

Eating well & exercising – It’s essential to eat well and exercise regularly whether you care for someone else or are only responsible for your own well-being. A caregiver can’t support a loved one or family member if he or she is sick and unhealthy.

Consider Home Health Care Assistance from Summit Hospice

If you’re currently caring for a family member and acting as the primary source of home care support, the health and well-being of everyone in your household may depend on getting in home supportive services at the right time. If you have started feel stressed and are concerned about the well-being of an elderly loved one, contact Summit Hospice to discuss your options.