Caregiving requires a lot of time, patience, focus, and attention to detail. Caregiving can be fulfilling and rewarding, yet it can be stressful and exhausting since caregiving is a long-term commitment and a challenge.
Caregiving is a noble task that comes with many responsibilities and challenges, like sleep deprivation, financial strains, lack of work-life balance, burnout, and many more. Around 43.5 million caregivers are unpaid, and some live in the same home as the person they are caring for. This job might take a toll on the caregiver’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
Caregivers struggle to manage their own health, and in turn, the well-being of their patients can be affected. According to recent studies, around 20% to 40% of caregivers experience depression and difficulty achieving work-life balance.
Stress in caregiving is normal, but if left unchecked, it could lead to a decline in their health, state of mind, and relationships, which eventually leads to burnout and overall (physical, mental, and emotional) exhaustion. In the case of burnout, both the patient and the caregiver suffer.
Caregiver Burnout and Compassion Fatigue, the difference?
Burnout is marked by an overall state of exhaustion and withdrawal due to increased workload and brought by institutional stress and not related to trauma.
As defined by the American Institute of Stress, compassion fatigue is “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.” These traumatic events can include severe or terminal illness, disability, injury, or combination.
As a caregiver, these two can co-exist for work-life balance is quite challenging to manage. Burnout and compassion fatigue has overlapping symptoms, like:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced sense of personal accomplishment or meaning in work
- Mental exhaustion
- Decreased interactions with others (isolation)
- Depersonalization (signs of disconnect from yourself)
- Physical exhaustion
Do note that compassion fatigue has a faster recovery if caught early, while burnout emerges over time. Both burnout and compassion fatigue are preventable, and the key is identifying your stressors and doing something about it.
Ways to Combat Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
- Talk To Someone – communication is extremely important in all aspects of life, it can lower stress levels as you vent out frustrations and other things that bother you, also it can take off the weight you are carrying.
- Stick to your schedule – time management is key in order to have a work-life balance in caregiving.
- Understand That What You Are Experiencing Is Normal – remember the saying “this too, shall pass” indeed it will, just do something about it.
- Exercise and eat nutritious foods – exercise lets the release of endorphins in your body and lowers down stress levels, support it with good nutrition and you’re on your way to a healthy lifestyle, on top of that, it can help you avoid burning out since exercise can take your mind off of things for a while.
- Get Enough Sleep – around 7-9 hours would help your body recuperate from daily stresses. Adequate sleep refreshes your mind and body, making you feel energized and ready to combat your daily challenges as a caregiver.
- Efficient Care Training and Certifications – Join online training and certifications on efficient care to provide better service and know more strategies to handle your patients or relatives you are caregiving.
- Take A Break – A break means total relaxation, have a vacation, learn to pamper yourself, and learn to detach from your work once in a while.
These tips will help you have breathing room in your life.
The Bottom Line
Caregiving is a non-stop challenge for all caregivers. However, caregivers must not forget to take care of themselves too to avoid burnout and fatigue. One way to prevent this is through attending online training and certification to provide better service and efficient care to patients and relatives. IBCCES offers different training and certifications to caregivers and advocates that could help them provide efficient care, understanding, and strategies to help the individual better.