Burn Out: For the Elderly Caregiver
Being an elderly caregiver can be one of the most rewarding jobs, but working in healthcare is also one of the hardest, most demanding and challenging industries to work in. While it is as rewarding as it is challenging, healthcare workers, especially elderly caregivers, are some of those at the highest risk for burn out.
WHAT IS BURN OUT
Burn out is an overwhelming constant state of exhaustion affecting one physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a result of excessive and prolonged stress whether leaving you emotionally drained and unable to keep up with life’s demands or physically and mentally drained prohibiting you from doing the things that bring you joy and causing your patience level to drastically decrease . Being an elderly caregiver, whether professionally or for a loved one, increases the usual stressors of life and since these are long term commitments the effects can snowball over time.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
As elderly caregivers we often ignore small warning signs in ourselves as we are constantly on the lookout for changes in those we are caring for. It is equally important to know what to look for in yourself;
- Chronic fatigue; constantly feeling rundown; difficulty sleeping; insomnia
- Chronic headaches; new or worsening migraines
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Decreased energy; lack of motivation or interest in things
- Seeming to catch every cold/flu, virus going around; weakened immune system
1. Anxiety; depression; low self-esteem
2. Trouble relaxing; difficulty concentrating
3. Increasingly impatient; irritable
4. Neglecting your own needs
5. Feeling hopeless/helpless; not caring anymore
While being an elderly caregiver will never be a stress-free occupation, there are some precautions you can take to help avoid burn out and take care of yourself!
Feeling powerless is the top contributor to elderly caregivers’ burn out and while it can feel as though you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders there are things to do that can give you hope and happiness while reminding you why you chose to be an elderly caregiver in the first place.
- Maintaining a good sleep routine
- Make self-care a priority
- Learn positive coping strategies
- Interacting with family and friends
- Talk to your supervisor or a professional
DANGERS OF CAREGIVER BURN OUT
PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH DANGERS;
Physical consequences of burn out can become very dangerous. Those suffering from burn out are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disorders, stroke, diabetes, sleep disorders and much more.
Mental consequences can be equally as taxing increasing your risk for depression, anxiety and overall decreasing your ability to experience joy and pleasure from your life.
As an elderly caregiver experiencing burn out you can unintentionally place your clients in danger as tasks become increasingly overwhelming, mistakes will begin to happen perhaps more frequently and your patience will decrease making things more challenging and causing more obvious irritation with your clients.
OTTAWA RESOURCES FOR THE ELDERLY CAREGIVER
The City of Ottawa has many resources for the elderly caregiver whether professional or family caregivers:
https://ottawa.ca/en/family-and-social-servic es/older-adults/caregiver-support#:~:text=F or%20further%20information%20on%20trai ning,Website(link%20is%20external).
Lotsa Helping Hands is an online resource where you can add your Ottawa based family or elderly caregiver team to one platform that allows you to schedule appointments, reminders and much more!
Ottawa Public Health is a wealth of knowledge for mental health resources for everyone including elderly caregivers:
https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public- health-topics/mental-health-caregiver-guide. aspx
The Royal Ottawa is the premiere organization for your emotional well-being overall:
The Ontario Caregiver is a great resource, while it does not only apply to the Ottawa region it has many platforms include a Helpline: