Tips to Help You Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is a balancing act of career, family, relationships, and numerous other responsibilities. Based on the most recent stats, 7.8 million Canadians aged 15 and older were caregivers in 2018.

Trying to juggle caring for your loved one with everything else you have going on can be physically and mentally exhausting. It also puts you at risk for what’s known as caregiver burnout.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout is defined as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It results from taking on more than you’re able or not getting the help you need.

Like many other caregivers, you may feel guilty taking time for yourself because you feel you should spend it with your elderly or ailing loved one. Chances are you’re also placing unreasonable demands on yourself, as so many family caregivers do because you feel like all of the responsibility of caregiving has to be yours. While these all stem from your love for your parent, it’s important to understand that it can be damaging to your well-being and health if you don’t take action now.

You may be so used to just making it work that you don’t even realize that you may be headed to burning out.

A person experiencing caregiver burnout may:

  • Feel tired often
  • Suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Feel hopeless and helpless
  • Experience irritability and bouts of anger
  • Lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Withdraw from friends and family

Some people also experience feelings of wanting to hurt themselves and have thoughts of suicide.

How to avoid caregiver burnout

There are things you can do to help you avoid caregiver burnout when caring for an elderly parent or loved one.

Here are some tips.

Educate yourself on your loved one’s illness

If looking after a loved one with an illness, become familiar with the condition and how it manifests so you know what to expect.

You can find information through a healthcare provider or online.

Put together a support team

Put together a support group of relief persons, including a professional caregiver for 4 hours, once or twice per week, or as needed.

A professional caregiver can take on some of the duties of caregiving so you don’t have to do it all. They can also provide respite and spend time with your loved one so you can take some time for yourself.

Find activities the care recipient loves

Putting on their favorite record or movie is a nice distraction for your loved one that will also buy you some time for a break.

That 40-minute long Frank Sinatra record can allow you time for a cup of tea or chat with a friend.

Join a peer support group

Connecting with others in a similar situation can make you feel less alone and allow you the opportunity to talk freely about the issues you’re struggling with without judgement.

You can find one online through the Ontario Caregiver Organization or by calling their helpline at 1-833-416-2273 (CARE).

End of rope support

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and having trouble coping, reach out for help. Caring for a loved one can be incredibly stressful. You don’t need to do it alone.

If you need someone to talk to, visit the Crisis Services Canada website to find local resources and supports.

If you’re thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645.

If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, call 911 for immediate help.

 

 

 

 

Article Resources
The experiences and needs of older caregivers in Canada. Paula Arriagada, Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2020001/article/00007-eng.htm
Managing Caregiver Stress. University Health Network. https://www.uhn.ca/PatientsFamilies/Health_Information/Health_Topics/Documents/Managing_Caregiver_Stress_caring_for_a_loved_one.pdf

Competitive Card Games That Keep the Ageing Mind Sharp

A little friendly competition in the way of card games with others could be the key to keeping the mind sharp as we age, according to various studies linking playing cards and other games with better memory and brain function, and reduced risk of dementia.

While solo games like solitaire are good for the mind, too, playing with others has added benefits that come from social connections.

To reap the brain benefits of card games, seniors can play with friends and family, get in on games at the local community or senior centres, or play cards with their caregiver. We can tell you that our caregivers are always up for a friendly game!

Here are some competitive card games to play to keep the mind sharp.

Bridge

This four-person card game is the perfect example of how playing cards can keep the brain sharp. It requires memory and sequencing and helps improve skills like reasoning, logic, and concentration. The social aspect is the icing on the cake.

Poker

Poker’s not just for card sharks! Anyone can enjoy this competitive card game for 2 to 7 people. You don’t need to play for big money; you can play for pennies or snacks! Hosting a poker night is great fun and your caregiver can help. Make it a low-key game just between the two of you or have your caregiver help you host friends or family.

Go Fish

Card games don’t need to be complex to stimulate the mind. A game of Go Fish is a favorite with many of our clients and one that most people already know how to play. This classic card game isn’t just for seniors; it’s great for all ages! Play with your grandkids or friends, or challenge your caregiver to a game or two to help improve your memory and reduce stress.

Gin Rummy

This classic card game is easy to learn, but requires concentration and memory. Classic gin rummy, or “gin” for short, is typically played with two people, though different variations of the game can have more players.

Euchre

Gather 4 friends or family members or join a game at the local seniors centre for a game of Euchre. It takes a little time to learn the rules, but once you get the hang of it, you’re sure to love this competitive game. It involves strategizing and concentration, which is as beneficial for your brain as it is exciting!

Playing cards is a wonderful way to sharpen memory and keep boredom and depression at bay. Card games can be enjoyed with a caregiver by seniors who don’t have friends or family to play with. They’re also a wonderful way to connect with others and build your social circle if you join a club or the odd game at the local community centre or library.

 

 

 

 

 

Article Resources
Cognitive Activity and Onset Age of Incident Alzheimer Disease Dementia. Wilson RS, Wang T, Yu L, Grodstein F, Bennett DA, Boyle PA. https://n.neurology.org/content/early/2021/07/14/WNL.0000000000012388
Playing Bridge May Boost Immunity. Kristin Leutwyler. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/playing-bridge-may-boost/
Try These Activities with Loved Ones Affected by Memory Changes. Cleveland Clinic, HealthyBrains.org. https://healthybrains.org/try-activities-loved-ones-affected-memory-changes/