Table of contents:
- Caring for an elderly parent is a tremendous task, but we take it as our duty and do not notice our efforts. Even if you are driven by the best of intentions, burnout will sooner or later overtake you if you don't provide a strong enough system of support and self-care
- Part-time work
- How to recognize burnout
- If burnout is on the way
Video: How To Maintain Health And Sanity While Caring For Elderly Parents - Society
Caring for an elderly parent is a tremendous task, but we take it as our duty and do not notice our efforts. Even if you are driven by the best of intentions, burnout will sooner or later overtake you if you don't provide a strong enough system of support and self-care
This can last for weeks, months, or even years. Your spouses no longer hope that you will come to dinner, the children are tired of inviting you to their school plays, and at the mention of a hobby you can only grin sarcastically. We had to abandon the former high standards of cleaning a long time ago, and there is simply no energy to plan your meals and go shopping. It’s not possible to get enough sleep right from the very mother’s stroke, and at work, shoals have already begun due to absent-mindedness and overwork.
This description is especially familiar to the generation of "sandwiches" - those who provide care for both their children and their parents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states 1 that such people spend an average of 1,350 hours a year helping their parents and children - despite the fact that 75% of these people also have main work outside the home. And no matter how important it is for us to take care of our parents, it is impossible to underestimate the hardships of this work.
Imagine a full-time job in four positions at once: office worker, housewife, nurse, and nanny. And you also need to be a good wife or husband, look decent and see your friends. Unfortunately, we all have a limit of possibilities, beyond which we will meet with burnout. And this can harm not only our psyche, but also physical health.
How to recognize burnout
The most common red burnout light is constant fatigue. One that does not go away either after sleep or after vacation. Along with it comes emotional instability, outbursts of irritation or sadness, interspersed with increasingly rare episodes of recovery, which are gradually replaced by apathy and emptiness.
At the same time, or a little later, the ability for human communication, mutual understanding, empathy is lost. It’s as if the stock of interest and patience in people has run out - to colleagues, relatives, clients, bystanders, and they are all perceived through the prism of emotional exhaustion. I want them all to be left alone, but loneliness is more and more burdensome.
Finally, the meaning of the activity and the desire to continue it are lost. One's own efforts begin to seem fruitless, the results are devalued and only cause new waves of irritation, self-criticism and hopelessness.
It is difficult to think adequately in this state, so often people experiencing emotional burnout begin to harm themselves: they load themselves more with work or household chores, forget about food and rest, sacrifice sleep, abuse alcohol and drugs, avoid communication and do not seek help … This behavior only exacerbates the situation, and after burnout comes sleep disorders, digestion, decreased immunity, depression and many other difficulties that are unlikely to facilitate the process of caring for an elderly or seriously ill parent.
If burnout is on the way
1. Start with the hardest
Talking about money, death and distribution of roles is always difficult. It is a million times more difficult when a parent cannot take part in this discussion, and all responsible decisions have to be made for him or her, while feeling complete uncertainty.
You should call a family law lawyer, financial advisor, real estate agent, funeral service specialist for help (yes, it is worth ordering and assessing future expenses in advance, because it is better to deal with this absurd quest in modern realities in your right mind). Treat all wishes and questions of mom or dad with respect and remember that often adult children are much more anxious during such conversations than their elderly parents.
2. Taking care of yourself is your priority
You cannot help your loved ones effectively if nothing is left of you. Therefore, as you approach burnout in red, highlight in your calendar the sacred, inviolable hours of your rest - they must be there. Full sleep, taking care of your body, varied regular meals, distracted leisure, communication with long-forgotten friends - without this, your battery will continue to run out without recharging. And we all know what happens to equipment if it is not charged.
3. Strengthen relationships with diversity
When was the last time you talked to your parents about anything other than their health and household? And when did you go out with them to the cinema, to an exhibition or to visit? As long as life goes on, it can be limited and filled with routine - or it can be as varied as circumstances allow. All living people need impressions - and the more there are, the more we want to continue living.
Whether caring for a parent is a deliberate decision or an emergency, you still have to learn it. You should not rely on intuition alone, because it is impossible to be an expert from birth in all areas. You can go to emergency medical courses, listen to lectures on family law or separate management of the family budget, and seek advice from a gerontopsychologist. But taking care of yourself also sometimes has to be learned, so do not hesitate to seek help from a psychotherapist and do not pass by stress resistance trainings.
5. Don't miss out on valuable life lessons
There are many difficult days ahead of you, quarrels, pains, fatigue. But there is a chance that these dark days will make you stronger and your relationship stronger - the main thing is not to waste time and energy avoiding fear, but to look for value in providing care and support. Regular rituals help with this, for example, taking a few minutes in the morning to remember the previous day and answer your questions:
- Which of the events of yesterday was the most valuable to me?
- Why do I feel grateful when I think back to yesterday?
- What can I learn from what happened to me yesterday?
- Which of the things I did yesterday was really important to me?
- How can I act today to be the person I really want to be?
If you're caring for your elderly parent right now, it's time to start keeping a journal and record your accomplishments along the way. Let you and your children be reminded of what you all managed to overcome, what you managed to learn during this unique, albeit endlessly difficult period of life. And if you are ready to go further, then you can even decide on a blog - for sure your experience can be a source of support for someone in a similar situation.