It's been described as the emotional rollercoaster of caregiving. Feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, guilt and sadness are emotions that are commonly experienced by family carers while looking after a loved one. "Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual health," reported WebMD. "The demands on a caregiver's body, mind and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness – and, ultimately, burnout." "Burnout isn't like a cold,"according to M. Ross Seligson, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist. "You don't always notice it when you are in its clutches. Very much like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the symptoms of burnout can begin surfacing months after a traumatic episode." The stress of caring for an elderly loved one is further complicated when caregivers have the added responsibility of looking after their own children. "Many caregivers unknowingly make things harder on themselves by trying to take care of their loved one's every need, all by themselves," explained Linda Fodrini-Johnson, a licensed marriage and family therapist and board member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. "Most of us want to feel independent, but the truth is that no one is capable of doing everything alone."

Primary caregivers need to reach out to other family members for physical, emotional, social or financial assistance in caring for a loved one. Inviting family members together for a meeting to discuss ways they can share responsibility for the care of a loved one can result in a plan of action that is satisfactory for the entire family. The elderly loved one should always participate in these family councils if they're cognitively able to understand the issues.

Too often, primary caregivers are reluctant to ask for help, or perhaps their requests have been ignored by other family members. "Even if everyone you know has said no, there are churches and other places that would help you find someone to come and spend a couple of hours with your loved one," Fodrini-Johnson shared.

Caregivers also need to investigate respite services such as in-home care, assisted living facilities with short-term programs and adult day care services in their communities. In addition to providing social and recreational opportunities for a loved one, these services can provide primary caregivers with a recuperative break.

Primary caregivers also need to regularly exercise, maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. "We know that a big percentage of caregivers over the age of 55 will die before the person they're caring for – and not because of some pre-existing condition. It's because they stop taking care of themselves," added Valerie Schultz, a counsellor at the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Centre in California.

Have you experienced symptoms of caregiver burnout and is it time to take a small break over the upcoming holiday season? Right At Home Australia offers superior consumer directed care with 24 hour service and carers who are able to sleepover which can assist in lifting the burden of care from your shoulders.

Right at Home Australia is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved one and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. Right at Home offers in-home care and assistance so your loved one can continue living independently and enjoying a vibrant life. Our caregivers are screened, trained and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one. 

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