The number of elderly in America and the United Kingdom is rising at present and is set to do so for some time to come. The cost of looking after the elderly can be a problem for families and in addition there is a guilt factor about handing over the care of parents to third parties. The adult child then feels that they have to commit time to look after their parents and many give up their jobs to do caregiving. This is having a major impact on daily life for both the elderly and the caregiver. The extra responsibilities, stress and financial strain are causing caregiver burnout.
There are some startling facts about caregiving:
- 52% of caregivers have been treated for stress.
- Caregivers are twice as likely to become ill or develop a disability.
- Over 10 million adult children over the age of 50 are looking after aging parents in America.
- A University of Michigan study predicts that caring for elderly Americans with Dementia costs more than $18 billion a year.
- There are over 250,00 children in the UK looking after relatives.
What is caregiver burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a condition that is caused by too much long-term stress, which can be caused by solely caring for an elderly relative, or someone who is unable to take care of themselves for a prolonged period of time. They become physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, and this can cause them to feel overwhelmed.
There are many areas that could cause caregiver burnout, because caregivers tend to neglect their own health. This means that they may become overwhelmed at a faster rate than before. Other causes of caregiver burnout include: role confusion, unrealistic expectations, lack of control, unreasonable demands and financial strain.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout
There are many possible indicators that someone is suffering from caregiver burnout. However the caregiver may not notice there’s a problem, or they may ignore indicators that suggest they could be suffering, and this may be because they are too distracted by ensuring that their relative is comfortable and receiving the help and support that they need.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout may included: weakened immune system, exhaustion. irritability, impatience, decreased productivity at work, social isolation, appetite changes, sleep pattern changes, excessive use of alcohol and sleeping medications, lack of exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed, helpless or hopeless.
What can be done to help the caregiver?
There are a number of different things that can be done to help the caregiver to reduce the stress that they may be experiencing. Seeking emotional support might be beneficial, and the caregiver could do this effectively by using support groups.
Community support groups can provide many benefits, as it gives caregivers the opportunity to receive support and advice from those with similar situations within the community. This can be particularly beneficial because it allows caregivers the opportunity to partake in social interaction, which in turn could provide them with the opportunity to make new friends and enjoy themselves.
Internet support groups could also provide benefits to caregivers, particularly in cases where they are unable to leave their homes. They also provide caregivers with the opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world who have similar interests, and this can also be helpful in cases where the individual has a rare condition or disease. These support groups can be more convenient for caregivers, as they can be accessed at any time, providing them with help when it is most needed.
Home care can be beneficial to both the individual and caregiver. Care workers can provide extra support to the relative, as they can visit regularly, and this would ensure that all of their needs are being met, and they also receive the extra care and support they need. The implementation of a home care package can also be beneficial for the caregiver because it provides them with the opportunity to have some respite, and do things they enjoy.
Mike runs a Care Agency called Everycare. Everycare serve people in Winchester, Twyford, Colden Common, Alresford and surrounding areas with a first class Home Care service. Everycare will supply care workers to look after your social needs and to help you to live a more fulfilled life.
By Mike Frizzell