Episode 11: I think I have CAREGIVER BURNOUT, HELP!!
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
In this episode, Mitch shares the importance of music in patient care. He tells several stories that demonstrate his points, and will touch your heart!
"If I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to take care of my loved one either. It's just a simple fact that there are no super humans. There is nobody on the planet Earth that can be a good caregiver if they don't practice good self care. "
Hello and welcome to living with Hospice. My name is Mitch Ware, and I'll be your host today. Come on in. Grab some coffee. Let's chat about something that's all too common care giver burnout. But first, let me clarify that I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nurse and a therapist. I'm not a medical professional. I am a long time volunteer, and I've been through caregiving as a father and a son, and I meet with caregivers air every week in my capacity of being a hospice volunteer. Most of us well, the huge majority of us that are being caregivers are so focused on caregiving that we forget about everything else, including ourselves. Caregiver burnout is very common and for the most part can be avoided. You know, the love lands that were taking care of can be a handful. They could be frustrated with you as well as their loss of independence. Often they act out these feelings and guess who is the recipient of this behavior? Yep, you are the caregiver. In some situations, you witnessed your loved ones slowly lose their personality, their kind demeanor, their filters and become a frustrated, angry just overall crabby individual that's basically miserable. Or maybe you watches your loved one slowly loses their memory, and perhaps they no longer remember you. And when they engage you, they tell you the same thing over and over and over again. In spite of your good intentions, you correct them and let them know that, well, they've shared that story many, many times. Then you see the confusion in their face in your heart sinks. You realized oops, probably shouldn't have said that it takes an immeasurable amount of patients to be a good caregiver. And quite frankly, I think we all fall short. Most people don't inter caregiving, armed with a full knowledge of what they're about to embark upon. They certainly don't think that they're putting their own health in harm's way. We all have great intentions. We all have our own motivations. What some of us want to be that special person for someone who's been special in our lives. Sadly, some caregivers are well in their own mind anyway, paying a penance for being less than maybe an ideal son or an ideal daughter or husband or wife. These caregivers air bringing a deep sense of comfort to their loved one out of a deep sense of guilt or indebtedness. Most caregivers are at midlife were beyond these ages are when we contract our own chronic illnesses and our own weaknesses tend to surface. Research has shown that the longer caregivers in the role of caregiving, the more likely he or she is to experience a decline in their own health. It's true caregivers and poor health can't provide optimal care for someone else, and they can't even provide decent care for very long. Caregiver stress levels and caregiver health play a major role in the decision to shift care to an assisted living or some other long term care facility. And sometimes that creates a whole new sense of gilts and stress in and of itself. We as caregivers air dedicated to giving 110% of everything we have. That's blood, sweat and tears. But no matter your motivation, it's easy to get so wrapped up in the caregiver mode that you don't see anything else that's going on around you and you lose focus. That's where an accountability buddy comes into play. Ask someone you trust to help you keep in check that is, have the monitor your well being seriously. Give them your permission to pull you out of the game for some self care when you become too tired and worn out. The technical definition of caregiver burnout is something like a mental emotional and physical exhaustion that develops through the responsibilities of supporting and caring for another individual. It's simple. Is that so? What happens when you're too tired or worn out to do most anything? You become less effective, your ruin your own health, and you're no longer giving the loved one the attention that you want to give to whomever you're taking care of. Oh, sure, he may be setting out the meds and making the meals and cleaning the house and helping with getting dressed and toileting and all of that stuff. But your smile is gone. Your frustration threshold is easily reached. Your happy demeanor is gone and you're probably downright crabby, and everybody can see it, even though person that you're taken care off. I've heard caregivers confessed to me the guilt of wishing that their loved one would just go ahead and pass on. Sad but true. Just to free everyone of this situation. It can get that bad. It doesn't have to, though. An accountability buddy will see this level fatigue in you. Before you see it in yourself, they'll step in and help you get perspective. They'll call a time out. You go to that metaphoric bench and get to work on some self care. What itself care well, if you were to look it up, you will get an answer like self care is an activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Although it's a simple concept, in theory, it's something we very often overlook. Good self care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It's also key to continuing a good relationship with oneself and ultimately with others. Self Cares is much needed and very effective lifeline for caregivers. Self care is not something that we force ourselves to do or something we don't enjoy doing. Like if somebody says Okay, take the afternoon off. I'm taking you to go shopping and you don't like the shop and you don't want to be in a big crowd that's not self care, even though your friends well intentioned, that's not good self care. Good self care activities are something that re energizes us rather than take away from us. It's not a stressful thing. It's a rest ful thing. A quiet afternoon in the spa, getting a pedicure or medic you're or whatever. That could be a good respite activity for you if you like that sort of thing. Or maybe just a real nice long walk or a nice meal in a good night's sleep. Man, a good night's sleep is worth a 1,000,000 bucks. When you're in caregiver burnout, dial back your stimulation. Rest. Let your body heal. Let your mind and spirit rest, then do what energizes you. You can find someone to be with your loved one during that brief period. If you need respite, help, let your hospice office no, and they will assist you in finding someone who is awesome to come in and temporarily pitch hit for you. Now you may be thinking, yeah, whatever. You know I don't have time for that, Mitch or I just need to focus on my loved one. That's where I get my joy or I really just need to take care of him or her she doesn't like it when I'm not here or he doesn't like when I'm not there. There will be a time for me later. I I really I just can't go fishing or I just can't go do anything for me right now. That would be selfish. Let's be clear. Self care is not a selfish act. It is not only about addressing our needs. It's also about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, which in turn allows us to be able to take care of others. That is, if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to take care of my loved one either. It's just a simple is that there are no super humans. There is nobody on the planet Earth that can be a good caregiver if they don't practice good self care. A typical side effect of caregiver burnout is that we neglect our other family members as well. In our foggy minds, we justify this neglect. If you want to use that word, that's kind of harsh, but it does kind of fit when you think about it. We justify this by thinking they're good and they're gonna be able to take care of themselves. Well, I made that mistake. I thought I was doing the right thing by focusing all my energy on my son Matt, who was in hospice care. And in doing so, I failed to fully see the needs of my other Children. My other three boys, they were amazing. And they handled it pretty well. Now that I look back on it some decade later. But I could have and I should have given more attention to them. I should have. And I could have tuned in a little better. If I wasn't so tired and burned out. I might have seen their needs. And well, yeah, just handled it better. Don't make that mistake. Take time for them. Allow them to express their feelings. Be present for them. Just like we encourage you to be present for the person you're taking care off. One great way to ensure this happens is toe. Ask your accountability, buddy to help you manage this. Did you know that 30% of caregivers die before the person that they're taking care of does now mind you. Vast majority of caregivers are older, but think about that. You know why this happens because they're probably going down this difficult road all alone. And if they have hospice, they're probably not saying much to the hospice nurse or the therapist that swing by or the chaplain. And they put on that brave face, and they they look like they're doing just terrific when inside they're not. They're overtaxing their bodies and not taking care of themselves at all. If you have an elderly loved one who is the primary caregiver for someone, suggest hospice care first and then share with them. The things that you've learned today from this episode point them to this episode helped them get on track to a more comfortable journey, not only for them but certainly for their loved one. So caregiver burnout is a thing. If you are a primary caregiver, you'll probably experience it. Know me. Let me let me correct that you will experience it from one degree or another and let me also say it's avoidable, having the knowledge that you're in a situation that can cause this burnout and by having someone in your life your accountability buddy, to help you navigate these waters, you can effectively reduce the amount of caregiver burnout you experience as we wrap up this episode, Let me share with you a little story. I know a family whose grandmother was accepted into a hospice care program. She stayed in her own home, and her husband of 45 years was her primary caregiver. He's a great guy. He's in pretty good health. He golfed in the summer leagues he bowled in the winter leagues. He would often go out and walk with her. He enjoyed being there for her one morning as he was bringing her her meds and, ah, probably her favorite pudding snack. He told her he didn't feel right. He felt a little sick to his stomach, just felt a little off. And there's probably fighting a bug or something off. We all know that there's bugs flying around everywhere, and then his chest began to get just a little bit tight. Then all of a sudden, it really hurt, he told his wife. It's it's like an elephant just sat down on me. Oh, my goodness. Just as he was about to lose his breakfast, the hospice nurse knocked and entered the house as he said hello. He passed out right on the way to the bathroom on the kitchen floor. She immediately ran over and attended to him and called 911 You guessed it. He was having a cardiac arrest. Thank the Good Lord above that she was right there when he needed her most. Otherwise he very well could have died right there on the kitchen floor. And his bedridden wife, a few feet away in the other room would have been helpless to come to his aid. Can you imagine the feeling that she would have to deal with the guilt, the helplessness, the angst? As it turns out, this wonderful gentleman have been taking care of his wife 24 7 for months. He was up with her at night. He would sleep just a few hours at a time in his lazy boy next to her hospital bed. There, in the family room, he put on a brave face. He put on that good look for everyone to see. Nobody knew the real story. He was worn out the stress he experienced from the day his wife was diagnosed to the stress of being a 24 7 single primary caregiver for months and months and months took its toll. It almost killed him. The hospice organization they were working with immediately brought in helpers and companion visitors to stand in the gap. Here's the silver lining. Once he had help with everyday tasks of caregiving, he got better and check this out. So did she. She could see he was better. He was his old self happy, cheerful and a joy to be around. As the good book says in Proverbs, Pride goes before destruction. Don't be too proud to get help. Be smart, be proactive. I know this is hard to recognize. I know it's hard to do when you're in that 11th hour far. Believe me, I've been there. I've done that and I regret it. Using accountability, Buddy, find someone you you trust to help you navigate these unknown waters. You don't have to drown and stress and burnout. Let hospice help you avoid this so that you can be the best caregiver that you can possibly be. As always, I want to thank you for spending your time with me today. It's always a pleasure to discuss these hospice issues with you, especially the ones that have impacted my life and especially the ones where I've messed up. I learned from my mistakes. If you have any questions or comments regarding caregiver burnout, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. And who knows, we just might cover your question in upcoming episode for all of the gang here I am Mitch Ware for living with hospice. Thank you again for listening and have a blessed day.