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How to avoid caregiver burnout

By TERESA BROULLIRE

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County

Stress can wear out caregivers if they do not lighten their loads. Caring for an aging or sick relative is not always so easy. In addition to the physical demands of caring for such loved ones, tending to sick people can take a mental toll, potentially contributing to a condition referred to as caregiver stress. Caregiver stress can manifest itself in many different ways, including physical and emotional problems.

The Mayo Clinic notes that caring for a loved one can strain even the most resilient person. It can be quite difficult to be a person’s sole caregiver and witness a loved one’s health deteriorate due to a debilitating illness. As the population ages, nearly 80% of the long-term care that takes place in the United States is overseen by people who are not health care professionals.

Here are some suggestions to help alleviate family caregiver stress:

— Investigate and learn about available resources.

— Explore all of the opportunities in your area that may relieve some of the burden of caring for your loved one.

— Ask for help. Find out if responsibilities can be split among other family members, giving each person a chance to rest and recuperate.

— Get physical. Physical activity in any form can help reduce stress and improve feelings of well-being, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Go for a walk, take an exercise class or ride a bicycle. Expect to feel more relaxed and less stressed after physical activity.

— Speak with a therapist. Discuss your feelings with someone not directly related to your family or circle of friends. Caregivers may have feelings of anger, depression and anxiety, and may even be in denial about how much care this person really needs. Talking about your feelings with a professional can put them into perspective.

— Focus on things you can control. You may not be able to cure the illness or disability, but there are things in your control. Rather than dwelling on things beyond your control, try to improve the things you can control.

— Try to have fun. It’s easy to make caregiving the only part of your life. Make time for yourself and don’t feel guilty.

— Participate in a caregiver conference or educational workshop. The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County will have its annual Caregiver Conference on Thursday, Oct. 15. The ADRC also will offer a Powerful Tools for Caregivers class on a date to be determined. Please call to be added to our mailing list or to learn more about these upcoming events.

The ADRC also can connect caregivers to the National Family Caregiver Support Program or the Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Support Program. These wonderful programs are there to offer respite, information, support and resources to help caregivers better care for their loved one and themselves.

The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides services and supports that help family caregivers and informal caregivers, such as a neighbor or a friend, care for older adults at home. The program can provide reimbursement to caregivers for things such as respite, home care, transportation, adaptive equipment, chore services, daily homemaking tasks and more.

The Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Support Program was created in response to the stress and needs of families caring for someone with an irreversible dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of AFCSP is to support caregivers, enhance lives and keep people in their homes as long as possible. Caregivers may be reimbursed through the program for services such as care coordination, in-home respite, adult day care, home care, home-delivered meals, transportation expenses, incontinence supplies, special locks or alarms, lifeline, caregiver education classes and more.

For more information on these programs, long-term care options, caregiving resources or upcoming caregiver workshops and events contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County at 715-528-4890. You may also go to www.florencecountywi.com, click on Aging and Disability Resource Center or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ADRC-of-Florence-County-WI.

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