Part of my job description as dementia caregiver (and one that is often overlooked or even unknown to many) is to informally assess/evaluate the actions, behaviors, responses, and demeanor of caregiver spouses and family members. I look deep into their eyes as I ask about specific rest/relaxation habits, check for frequency of smiles/laughter, listen to questions, concerns, complaints, and wording, and compare those verbal and physical signs to the care and supervision their loved one requires from me during a day of respite care to determine how things are going at home. One thing a majority of caregivers seem to have in common at one time or another (other than the obvious–having a spouse or parent with dementia) is caregiver burnout.
You may not think you have it or that you ever will because you completely love and are devoted to the person you are caring for—you have an obligation, a duty, a sense of purpose to protect and provide care to the best of your ability and I admire and respect those who take on caregiver role with such dedication–but burnout is real and can negatively affect all aspects of your life. It can create long-term problems that are preventable if recognized and addressed early. Having a case of caregiver burnout is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it is the result of giving time, energy, and unselfish service to your spouse or parent; it tells me you are going the extra mile for everyone but yourself. For some, burnout presents itself in cold or flu-like symptoms—you know the feeling—tired, achy, and generally “run-down”. For others, mental and emotional stability becomes weak—you get so angry you could scream or cry at the smallest triggers. Generally speaking, physical and mental symptoms show up in tandem, causing you grief as you attempt to keep it together to care for your loved one. Finding balance is difficult, but there are support services available, along with friendly, caring, trained people who want to help you through the caregiving experience in good health and spirits.
Whether you need to attend a support group, get assistance with meals, in-home care, respite, and/or referrals, or just have a trusted someone to talk to we can help you find the appropriate services.
• Mountainland sponsors regular caregiver support groups. For a complete list go to http://mountainland.org/site/articles/view/1398
The Community Resource Guide (such as meals, insurance, assistance at home, transportation, volunteer, and senior center activities) can be found on the same website.
• Caregiver’s Night Out at Aspen Senior Center 3410 N Canyon Rd., Provo: 1st Tuesday of each month/Dinner provided. Contact Geri Lehnardt 801-229-3814
Next meeting: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
~Tamara Nixon, BS, CHES