Giving all and getting back: How caregivers can advocate for their own well-being
Guest article by Michelle Walch
Adult foster care home work is a 24-hour, seven day-per-week job. Care home staff not only help with resident meals, errands, bathing and medical tasks, but these staff also give very much of themselves physically and emotionally. Many find the work rewarding, but it can be physically and emotionally challenging. That said, it is important to manage your own well-being so you can provide the best care.
What is Burnout?
“Burnout” occurs when someone is physically, mentally, and emotionally overwhelmed, according to Healthline. The rate of burnout is 53.3% for caregivers, and the rate of severe burnout is 27.1%, according to a Japanese study.
When you live where you work, you never really have a place to take a break. You are always on duty. Many caregivers don't reach out for help and don't take a break from their work. As a result, exhaustion takes its toll.
What are the Signs/Symptoms?
Be aware of the burnout warning signs:
It is important to know the difference between burnout and depression. Depression is a disorder of your state of mind. Burnout is a reaction to severe stress in your environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls it occupational burnout to describe work-related stress. This is different from the medical condition of depression.
An article in Psychology Today has a compassion fatigue questionnaire (similar to burnout) and suggestions on self- care if you scored high on the questionnaire.
When you live and work in the home, how do you build a break into your schedule?
Planning and Prevention
Alyssa Elting McGuire, of Oregon Care Home Consulting, recommends planning to prevent burnout. "Self-care is like being in an airplane when the oxygen mask comes down. You give yourself oxygen before you give it to someone you are caring for. When you take care of yourself, you can then take care of others."
A care provider in Washington County, Oregon, offered suggestions to prevent burnout:
For providers, trust your caregivers. You have well-trained caregivers. Trust them to take care of the residents while you're away.
Why Self-Care is Important for Caregivers
You love your job, and give it your all, but to keep performing well, recognize when you need a break or help. When you are stressed out, it may negatively affect your ability to take care of others. But there are things you can do to take care of yourself. Reach out for support and get the help you need.
How do you plan for, and prevent burnout?
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Michelle Walch is a health and wellness copywriter based in Canby, Oregon. Visit her website.