caregiver stress

Coping with Caregiver Stress: 10 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

As Singapore faces an ageing population, there will be an increasing number of seniors who will need care support.

by Tan Jia Hui

Getting diagnosed with an illness can be a life-altering experience.  In Lina‘s case, her world changed drastically when her mother, Mdm Fatimah was diagnosed with dementia.

A working professional and a mother of two, Lina had to take on the additional role in being her mother’s primary caregiver. This entails daily visits to Mdm Fatimah’s flat, and calling twice a day to ensure that her mother doesn’t forget to take her meals. As time wears on, Lina became increasingly tired despite her efforts to juggle her various commitments.

No doubt, caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience – but when work, children, and other daily responsibilities get thrown into the mix, it is natural to get increasingly overwhelmed.

Caregiving can be a long and demanding journey. In fact, 37% of caregivers in Singapore have been providing care to a loved one for over a decade! The stress of caregiving can accumulate over time, and if left unchecked, the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion can lead to burnout. If you are a caregiver to a loved one, here are some tips we have compiled to help you through your caregiving journey! 

What Causes Caregiver Burnout?

Family caregivers often put the needs and interests of their loved one ahead of themselves, neglecting their own wellbeing in the process.

Having unrealistic expectations is one reason that may contribute to the stress that caregivers face. Sometimes, caregivers may expect their loved one’s condition or mood to improve from their involvement in the care process. However, this may not be possible for individuals with progressive conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s.

Caregiver stress may also arise from external factors, such as a lack of support or pressure and expectations from family members. Sole caregivers may not have sufficient support for them to take breaks from caregiving. Other family members may also have unrealistic demands and expectations of the primary caregivers which add on to their stress.

Many caregivers also have to juggle multiple commitments and responsibilities on top of caregiving. Working caregivers may not be able to care for their loved ones especially during their shift, while the sandwich generation has to take care of both their children and parents at the same time.

Getting Started with the Right Care for Your Loved Ones

Just as how you will need time to come to terms with your loved one’s diagnosis, your loved one will need time to get around to the idea of being cared for.

When it comes to more complex or progressive medical conditions, it is important to seek professional advice to ensure that your loved one receives the best form of care.

Homage Care Professionals undergo extensive training for a variety of conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s and dementia, and are equipped to deal to guide your loved one through their physical and emotional needs.

Reach out to us to get a free care consultation for your loved one.

Book a Free Care Consultation with Homage Today >

What Are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?

Oftentimes, caregivers are so focused on the wellbeing of their loved ones that they don’t notice that it’s taking a toll on their own health. Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you are experiencing caregiver stress or burnout.

Signs of caregiver burnout & caregiver stress

  • Increased anxiety, depression, irritability and impatience
  • Lack of energy or constantly feeling exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
  • Neglecting your responsibilities and needs
  • Falling sick more often than before
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Feeling overwhelmed, helpless or hopeless
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones
  • Feel like your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
  • Constantly worrying and find it hard to relax even when help is available
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring

Are You Experiencing Caregiver Burnout?

If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, it is important for you to take some time off.

With Homage, you have the option to choose from ad-hoc to round-the-clock care support. We have short and long term care packages that are tailored to different durations for a variety of needs.

You can now take a breather or a long break from caregiving based on what your body needs. Book a consultation with us today to find out more.

Book a Free Care Consultation with Homage Today >

How Do You Prevent Caregiver Burnout?

Besides taking a toll on our health, caregiver burnout also affects the quality of care that our loved one receives. Here are some tips that can help us prevent burnout or recover from one, be motivated to deliver care and make caregiving a fulfilling experience again.Tips to cope with caregiver stress

1. Prioritise

Caregivers have a never-ending to-do list that’s impossible to complete. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you try to complete everything at one go. Instead, try to break down your tasks into smaller, actionable steps, prioritise them according to urgency and need, and establish a daily routine. 

2. Set Realistic Expectations

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a caregiver to try to give our loved one the best care possible. However, it’s important to keep in mind that no one is a perfect caregiver. Remind yourself that you’re always doing the best you can and making the best decision possible at that point in time, and that is enough.

Sometimes, we expect to see visible changes in our loved one’s condition, feeling disheartened when it doesn’t improve. However, in some cases, there’s only a slim chance of improvement, especially if your loved one has a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s. Managing your expectations can help to reduce the emotional toll of caregiving. 

3. Embrace and Accept Your Role as a Caregiver

When faced with your loved one’s illness and/or the added responsibility of caregiving, you may feel that it’s unfair. While it’s important to recognise that your feelings are valid, there’s no point stressing about things that we can’t change. 

Adjust your mindset instead. Perhaps becoming a caregiver has allowed you to set a good example for your children or improved your relationship with your loved one. Accept your role as a caregiver and focus your energy on the positive and meaningful aspects of caregiving to keep you going.

4. Get the Appreciation You Need

Feeling appreciated can motivate us in difficult times. However, our loved ones may not always be able to feel or show their appreciation due to their condition. It might help to imagine how they would respond if they were well and remind yourself that they would show their appreciation if they could. Turning to family and friends for support and validation may help as well.

5. Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Don’t downplay the time and effort you put into caregiving. Give yourself a pat on the back and find ways to acknowledge and reward yourself. You could even come up with a list of how you’ve made a difference and refer to it every time you feel disheartened.

6. Join a Caregiver Support Group

Being surrounded by people in a similar situation can be comforting. Besides providing validation and emotional support to one another, these individuals can share concrete and actionable strategies to cope with the challenges of caregiving. It’s also a great place to forge meaningful friendships. Here’s a list of caregiver support groups in Singapore that you may consider joining. 

7. Take a Break

For caregivers, breaks are not a luxury, but a necessity. Pamper yourself – it could be treating yourself to a massage and spa or even something simple like taking a long relaxing bath. Make time to meet up with friends and do the things you enjoy. Don’t feel guilty for taking time off for yourself. Taking a break to recharge can help you become a better caregiver. After all, your life should not solely revolve around caregiving, you deserve to enjoy yourself too! 

8. Practise Self-Care

It’s important to take care of yourself before taking care of others. As a first step, make sure you have sufficient sleep. Sleep is important in improving our mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress. Eating well can also boost our energy levels and keep us in the pink of health. 

While it can be a dread to exercise when you’re already stressed and tired. However, it can be a great mood booster and help you stay healthy. Regular exercise can help us feel more energetic as well. Try to aim for 30 minutes a day, breaking it up into shorter sessions if it’s easier.

Going for regular health check-up is another aspect of self-care. While you are busy bringing your loved one to and fro medical appointments, make sure you make time for your own too. 

9. Meditate

Make time for relaxation or meditation into your daily routine to help relieve stress and boost your joy and wellbeing. Practise deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or mindfulness meditation. Even a few minutes a day can help you feel more composed when things get overwhelming.

10. Reach Out for Help

Shouldering the entire scope of caregiving responsibilities by yourself is bound to lead to burnout. We all need a little help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for and accept help, be it from family and friends, volunteers or professional care providers.

Homage Provides 24/7 Caregiving Services for You and Your Loved Ones

Whether it’s short-term, night, or round-the-clock care, Homage has a variety of care packages to suit your needs.

Book a Free Care Consultation with Homage Today >

Home Care Options For Your Loved One in Singapore

Home care services can help relieve you of your caregiving responsibilities in the short-term so that you can take time off for yourself.

For caregivers who prefer for their loved ones to remain in the comfort and familiarity of home, engaging home care services can be a great option. Qualified nurses and caregivers can support your loved one with activities of daily living, nursing procedures and more. 

For Lina, engaging the help of Homage Care Professional Nora to take care of her mother has helped lift a weight off her shoulders. Nora was able to come by Mdm Fatimah’s place several times a week to provide companionship and prepare meals for her. As Nora had prior experience caring for persons with dementia, she was able to answer Mdm Fatimah’s questions patiently, and engage her in a meaningful manner. 

Home care allows your loved one to stay in a familiar environment, and be engaged on a deeper and more personalised level. At Homage, we offer holistic home care options that are tailored to your loved one’s needs. These include personal care, nursing services, rehabilitation therapy or medical care, starting from one hour to round-the-clock care.

When the going gets tough, it can help to remember that you’re not alone. Help is always available. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it. Learn more about the care support options available at Homage by filling up the form below. 

Home Care Packages To Help You Cope with Caregiver Burnout

Prevent caregiver burnout by choosing the care option that’s best suited for your needs. Homage offers care packages starts from just $20/hr. You can even save up to 20% with our care packages for multiple sessions. Book a FREE consultation with our Care Advisors to find out more today!

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If you need support caring for your loved one for both the short- and long-term, we can help. Reach out to our Care Advisors at 6100 0055.

References
  1. Zhao, Z. (2011). Caregiving in Singapore [Ebook]. Retrieved 27 July 2020, from https://www.singstat.gov.sg/-/media/files/publications/society/ssnsep11-pg12-14.pdf.
About the Writer
Tan Jia Hui
Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can. In her pockets of free time, you can find her snacking on ice cream and fries with her 80-year-young Grandma at home.
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