Hope Knight, MS, RN, Oklahoma District
Parish Nurse Representative
This month's health topic is Caregiver Burnout!
Caregivers as we know them have chosen to put their lives on hold usually to care for a family member. These caregivers may be so busy caring for the needs of the loved one that they put aside their needs, neglecting their mind, body, and spirit. Many may not feel they can leave the home for most any reason, the store, the doctor, and even church. In these days of online delivery, the caregiver may not drive, have groceries delivered, as well as home items. Personal hygiene, friendships, and group activities are put aside while caring for their family member. The caregiver may be alone in a sea of people.
Giving care for every part of the life of another may well be lonely, overwhelming, and lead to thoughts of hopelessness. The constant requirements of this care may lead to burnout of the caregiver. The caregiver may withdraw from others, be irritable, have changes in appetite, experience insomnia, or be exhausted. After the family has passed, the caregiver may be found to have health problems due to the personal neglect.
Aspects of burnout may also include:
Role Confusion: Confusing their role in the family (wife, daughter, son) to that of a constant provider. Feeding, bathing, turning, changing soiled undergarments, and giving medications.
Unrealistic Expectations: the expectation that the care-receiver will be thankful or even grateful for their care. Depending of the disease process, the memory of who is giving the care may be lost, breathing is a struggle leaving little thought for where or who is providing the care, or the inability to communicate has been taken. This allows for little gratitude for the caregiver.
Lack of Control: Very few caregivers have planned to be a caregiver. Where to they find the tools to give this level of care, how to acquire the equipment, how to clean the personal area of the loved one, or how do the bills get paid. Having tasks that cloud any planning or understanding may increase the burnout.
Unreasonable Demands: Many caregivers will take the full load of the care upon themselves, believing that they are the right one for this care. If others come to offer care, they may push them aside, attempting to do the task themselves. These seemingly unreasonable demands on oneself will increase the burnout.
Burnout may be obscured by the need to be the caregiver. The caregiver often denies that they are not able to handle this level of care. Depression and loss of their health may be the outcome.
Prevention of Burnout
Talk to a trusted friend or neighbor about frustrations, feelings, and fears.
Seek to understand the disease process, this will assist in planning for future issues
Allow yourself to enjoy a favorite show, book, or time on a social platform
Talk to the Social Worker if available from Home Health or Hospice
Take advantage of respite care offered from the church or friends.
Sleeping, eating, and hydration remains important
Start a gratitude journal, find a few positives in the day.
Remember you are important, mind, body and soul need nurture
Home Health may be available to assist with planning, an aide for bathing, and support.
Adult Day Care if the care recipient is able to participate.
Private Duty Caregivers that can come in for 2-4 hours a few times a week for respite.
Hospice Care can assist with equipment, caregiving, support, and providing needed items.
Churches can develop a Respite Program to give the caregiver a break, and socializing.
Online support groups where caregivers can offer support and caregiving techniques.
Caregivers are alone in a sea of people. Lost in the task of giving care to a loved one, they may not think of what tomorrow may bring, care about the fatigue that set in, or stop to pray or read a devotional. The forgotten, the lonely, the caregiver is a member of the church or a family member, that struggles every day to be whole or cared for.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), touches many lives. This information identifies who may be affected, the symptoms seen, and how to assist in a positive way. I am planning a Health Topic for each month. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me!
Click here "PTSD" for complete article!
There is a link to the Parish Nurse Video concerning working with Veterans on the Page 3. You can also go to LCMS.org ant type in "Parish Nurse" and the video is down the page.
I am working on an Alzheimer's topic. Will be ready soon.
I would also like to invite everyone to the Oklahoma Health Ministry Network meeting at Concordia Life Center this Saturday 7/14 at 10:00am. Lunch is provided! I will send out the notes from the meeting if you have to miss.
Hope Knight MS, RN, PN
Oklahoma District Parish Nurse Representative