In the last blog, we talked about getting the support of respite care when the efforts of caregiving for a loved one become too wearing. This article is going to address the concept of Caregiver Fatigue, which is a real thing.
Another word for fatigue is burnout. When you have refused or forgotten to take care of yourself physically and emotionally you can totally become exhausted. Every chore becomes a real effort and you may start really regretting or resenting what you have to do as part of your responsibilities.
Why does Caregiver Fatigue happen?
Maybe other family members or friends have been expecting too much of you. If you already have a hard time delegating your duties of caretaking, their opinions and comments may keep you from doing what you need to take care of yourself.
Switching to being a caregiver first instead of the spouse, adult child, or significant other can also drain you. It’s just another big change you’re having to cope with… your identity.
It’s also difficult to accept some of the realities that you are facing. The person you’re caring for may not ever improve. Everything you do and more may not be enough to make this load as comfortable and as happy as you would like. They may even die sooner than you are expecting.
Add on possible financial difficulties, enormous changes in your lifestyle, and feelings of just not having enough energy or time to do all this expected, plus take care of yourself. It is no wonder you may be feeling some tension and weariness.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Fatigue
Many of the following characteristics are similar to the symptoms of depression.
- A big reduction in contact with friends and family
- Very little enthusiasm for carrying out the duties necessary.
- Using more alcohol, drugs or sleeping pills.
- Forgetting appointments and doing other types of chores
- Difficulties with sleep.
- Experiencing emotions like hopelessness, separation, powerlessness and impatience
What can I do?
Most of it is about self-care, yet again. Refer back to the respite blog posted a little over a week ago.
Remember to ask for support when you need to. People may think you’re just a superpower and able to cope with anything and everything. You have to let them know when you’re struggling. Make sure you’re calling people even if it’s just for a couple of minutes on a regular basis. Get outside and get some fresh air. You may be able to even take your loved one with you in a wheelchair or whatever is appropriate. And please be eating as best you can and getting the rest you need.
Hopefully this blog has given you permission to admit your limitations and your needs. Caregiver Fatigue can happen to anyone. Unfortunately too many caregivers deny
themselves what is necessary to keep them going for the long haul. Please don’t let that happen to you and your loved one. Give yourself the gift of caring for both of you.
I’ve included an excerpt from a wonderful poet named John O’Donohue. To read the rest of it, go to the link below.
For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will. https://onbeing.org/blog/john-odonohue-for-one-who-is-exhausted-a-blessing/