Caregiver burnout is a common complaint among family caregivers. The feeling of being overburdened with never-ending tasks can come on in a rush when coping with job demands, family needs, and household tasks.
Sometimes we feel that we are the only ones that can completely and skillfully care for our aging parents. Plus, it’s just easier to dig into that mountain of work than it is to explain chores or medication needs to another family member or volunteer, right? Wrong!
There are times when one person is tasked with carrying the burden of caring for a loved one. However, there can be times when caregivers should stop the train and ask for help from others who can provide meaningful support.
Being a great caregiver includes knowing when to accept help. Avoiding caregiver burnout means building a proactive plan that provides for the best care for their loved one while building in respite time for the caregiver.
If you recognize yourself as someone who is unwilling to ask for help, even when it could be available, ask yourself why this might be so. In his book, The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers, Dr. Barry J. Jacobs lists six questions that a caregiver needs to consider if she or he does not like asking for help.
- Do you resist asking for help because you feel that caregiving is a privilege?
- Do you resist asking for help because no one else can do the job as well as you can?
- Do you resist asking for help because, in your judgment, you have more time and energy for the task than anyone else?
- Do you resist asking for help because you would feel like you were shirking your responsibility, which would in turn make you feel guilty?
- Do you resist asking for help because you made a commitment, and making any change would make you feel that you were breaking that commitment?
- Do you resist asking for help because you’ve begun to define yourself solely in your role as a caregiver?
These are important questions for any caregiver to ask and then to answer honestly. Perhaps you do feel that caregiving is a privilege; nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that it’s something that you have to do alone. Perhaps you do have the most time and energy for a task, but that does not mean someone else could not do that same task adequately and allow you some “rejuvenation” time.
No matter how great a caregiver you are, you will always need help at some time or another. Recognizing this fact and being willing to ask for help when it is needed will only make you more effective.