November is national family caregiver month, and it is a good time for everyone to think about the different steps that will make the process of caring for a relative easier. There are both physical and mental stresses involved from being a full-time caregiver, and to avoid burnout, a caregiver needs to remember these tips.

One: Seek Daily Support from Friends and Relatives

Caregivers do not need to try and cope alone because there are support systems in place. A caregiver can find groups of other people in the same situation to talk to on the telephone or online. Support groups for caregivers meet at hospitals or nursing homes, and while discussing problems, it is also possible to socialize with others. This network of acquaintances understands the stresses of dealing with a spouse or grandparent with a dementia condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or a neurological disorder such as multiple sclerosis.

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Two: Remain Happy Despite the Circumstances

It is easy for isolated caregivers who are caring for an infirm loved one to become depressed themselves, leading to poor health. In many cases, a caregiver is responsible for feeding and bathing a loved one who was once energetic but is now in physical pain or mentally despondent. If a spouse or parent has dementia, then the person may become angry and unable to remember who is caring for them. Not only is the caregiver subjected to verbal abuse, but physical abuse can also occur. To maintain their sanity, caregivers must give themselves permission to find humor in odd circumstances.

Three: Continue to Participate in Outside Activities

Unless the person requiring daily care is too ill to leave a home, it is a good idea to continue socializing by attending religious services, going to shopping centers, and taking vacations. Social isolation is not a healthy way for either the caregiver or the infirm person to live on a daily basis. There is no reason to hide the struggle of providing constant care for another adult in a home, and when caregivers and senior citizens get outside a home frequently, it is easier to build a support system of neighbors and friends.

Four: Caregivers Must Take Time for Themselves to Remain Healthy

Caring for a loved one who is progressively declining from a physical or mental condition is draining, and unless the caregiver takes time for their emotional needs, they are at a higher risk of developing an illness themselves. The length of time that a caregiver may need to care for an elderly loved one can last for many years rather than weeks or months. This care is often required on a 24-hour basis, and a caregiver may not get enough sleep or downtime to rest and relax. In order to avoid total burnout, a caregiver must find ways to take time for themselves to enjoy a hobby, movie, or outing with friends.

Five: Caregivers Need to Ask for Help

Caregivers must reach out for assistance from relatives and friends when they need help with tasks such as transporting the senior citizen to a physician’s office or taking a few hours off for themselves. There are social service agencies that can assist caregivers with valuable respite care services from volunteers or paid caregivers who work on an hourly basis. For additional information about hiring paid caregivers, contact Salus Homecare in San Fernando Valley.