Caring for your children and your elderly parents? You are not alone.
More than one in five working Canadians belong to the “Sandwich Generation,” where the dual responsibilities of caring for both children and parents often lead to stress and burnout.
With competing family and workplace responsibilities, caregivers need to be aware of and be vigilant about the symptoms of caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout occurs when caregivers feel unable to continue to provide the best care for their loved one because they are emotionally or physically spent.
Caregivers who feel that they are being pulled in too many directions, who feel trapped in their role as caregiver, and who don’t feel like they are getting support from others are at risk of burning out.
Concentrate on addressing stressors you can control instead of spending energy focusing on stressors you cannot control (such as your loved one’s medical condition).
Did you know?
1. Caregivers provide care and assistance for spouses, children, parents, and other extended family members and friends who need support due to age, disabling medical conditions, chronic injury, long-term illness, or disability.
2. Approximately one in four Canadians is a caregiver for an elderly family member or friend.
3. According to Health Canada, caregivers are both young and old, and are predominately female.
4. Almost one in five working Canadians are responsible for both childcare and eldercare.
5. Caregivers can be responsible for a range of activities when caring for a loved one, including assisting with personal care, managing end of life (palliative) care, or overseeing financial and legal affairs.
6. There are more resources available for caregivers now than ever before, ranging from needs assessments, nursing visits, homemaking services, meal programs, and transportation services.
A deterioration of the health of the caregiver or of the person being cared for may also be a sign that the caregiver is experiencing burnout.
As a caregiver, it is important for you to identify the major sources of stress in your life. Concentrate on addressing stressors you can control instead of spending energy focusing on stressors you cannot control (such as your loved one’s medical condition).
Asking for help is also important for avoiding burnout. Caregivers should not be afraid to ask family and friends to help, and should be as specific as possible about what kind of help they need. Often, family and friends wish to help out but do not know how.
Betty, a caregiver to her adult son with Down’s syndrome, understands the importance of accepting help and using it to take care of herself.
“I take advantage of the regularly scheduled times where I can have some respite care,” she says. “During this time I do things that I enjoy, things that make me feel good.”
If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, explore the many resources available to you, including caregiver support groups, online resources, and government programs. Services can range from meal programs and adult day centres, to housework assistance and nursing care.
For more information on avoiding caregiver burnout and to access other caregiver resources, visit Saint Elizabeth’s Caregiver Compass at: www.caretoknow.org/flash/compass or call 1-877-787-SEHC (7342).
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