A caregiver is a person whose primary responsibility is to help another perform activities of daily living. Caregivers must remember that their self care is important too, as so much of their time is spent focusing on others. Caregivers’ self care can sometimes fall by the wayside, leading to burnout.
Why Self Care is Important for Caregivers
To effectively care for others, you have to be healthy yourself. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is why self care is so important for caregivers; to avoid burnout and ensure that a positive quality of life is maintained for all.
Who’s a Caregiver?
The term “caregiver” encompasses many individuals. Those who care for the elderly, children, and others with “chronic or debilitating medical conditions,” are all considered caregivers. This includes parents of small children, adults who are caring for their aging parents, and professional caregivers.
The role of a caregiver is a large one. Helping another to eat and bathe, or taking care of tasks around the house, running errands, while remembering doctors appointments on top of personal obligations can lead to a considerable amount of stress. It’s an admirable role; the act of helping another is one of great selflessness and compassion.
Look Out for Caregiver Burnout
It’s been shown that when caregivers neglect their physical, emotional, and psychological needs, it can lead to caregiver burnout. It’s reported that caregivers are likely to experience guilt when they take the time they need for themselves, instead of focusing on the person they primarily care for.
When burnout sets in, caregivers may begin to experience feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, depression, changes in appetite or weight, and even feelings of wanting to hurt themselves or the person they are caring for.
Caregiver burnout is a mental condition and is not a moral failing. It’s one that requires professional help and a re-evaluation of self care.