Alzheimer’s Caregiver Burnout
by Nancy Wurtzel on March 1, 2016
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Many times in my blog, I’ve written about being a caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. People sometimes ask me about caregiver burnout and did I go through that experience.
Yes, I absolutely did experience burnout. There came a point during the long journey when I wondered, “How much do I give up to care for my mom?”
I was consumed by providing perfect care, which, of course, wasn’t feasible. It was difficult to see it at the time, but I was making myself sick in the process. If I became ill, then who would take care of my mother? Something had to change. With the help of friends, family and online support, I was able to strike a better caregiving balance.
Striking a Caregiver Balance
caregiver-Alzheimer’s-dementia-memory loss-aging,-caregiver, I came to terms with the fact that I could not cure my mom. Her Alzheimer’s disease was progressing, and my goal had to be realistic. Instead of a cure, my goal became making Mom’s life a little better. I came to realize this smaller goal was attainable. It was possible to make a difference in my mom’s life as she moved through the disease.
Over time, I was also able to give up on my quest for caregiver perfection — an impossible goal. My new mantra became: “Good enough is good enough.”
While in the midst of caregiving it is really, really difficult to see your situation clearly.
Some part of me believed this extreme dedication was a sign of being a good daughter, but I learned it is impossible to sustain this level of commitment and the sacrifices that come with it. Not only could I not sustain it, but I was now having health problems of my own.
Caregiver Burnout Warning Signs
Below is a list of caregiver warning signs that might apply to you or someone you know:
Refusal to take any breaks or share caregiving duties
Believing no one else can provide care for your loved
Symptoms of insomnia or fatigue that doesn’t go away, even with adequate sleep
Isolating yourself from family and friends
Crying easily and quick to lose patience
Harboring feelings of resentment, hopelessness, and even dread
Having feelings of resentment toward the person under your care
caregiving for elderly parents-caring for older relatives-aging aging in place-primary and secondary caregiversCaregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to pace yourself for the long distance and this means conserving energy.
Finally, ask yourself, “Would my loved one want me to completely give up my own life at the expense of my own physical and mental wellbeing?”
I think all caregivers would agree the answer is ‘no.’