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Managing Care-giver Fatigue


"Caregiving means pushing through when everything is a mess and you’re so exhausted and drained that you’re not even sure you’ll make it.

But you keep going anyway"

Unknown

I sometimes struggle to manage the guilt I feel that my younger sister Destiny, bears the bulk of the burden of caring for our mother.

Destiny visits my mother once a week to do her shopping and she's the one who takes Mum to all her medical appointments. She's also the one who accompanies Mum on regular mini holidays. In fact, my mum and sister have just returned from two days at a B&B by the sea.

My older brother drops by most Thursday evenings to vacuum Mum's apartment and keeps her company for a few hours.

My younger brother, the baby of the family who lives in the country and is a professional masseur, visits mum once a month or so and gives her delicious treatments.

Even though my brothers love our mother dearly, their contribution can be sporadic and minimal.

I've learned to manage the guilt of living thousands of miles away from my family by contributing in the best way that I'm able to.

My heart aches when I think of my mother in her small apartment, not seeing or talking to anyone for days on end. Although this is not the case as she does have people around her if she wants the company, that is where my mind goes.

I contribute to Mum's care by paying for a carer to attend to her needs three times a week as well as contributing to any additional expense that may come up.

When I'm in the UK, I take over the care duties of my siblings and I revel in attending to all her needs. Mum will often keep a list of tasks specifically for when I visit and when I arrive at her home, we sit down and prioritise these in my diary.

My mother is 87 and has had a number of health scares. When these happen, Destiny is the one who drops everything and attends to her needs. This can be challenging to Destiny's mental and physical health and as a big sister, I am mindful of supporting her in managing carer's fatigue.

Managing Carer Fatigue

Managing carer fatigue is crucial for maintaining the health and well-being as well as the effectiveness of caring for our elders over a long period of time.

Here are some strategies to help manage carer fatigue:

1. Prioritise self-care: This one is often overstated but is so crucial because carers often neglect their own needs while focusing on the needs of others. It is important to prioritise self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.

2. Ask for support: It can be counter-intuitive for carers to do this but it is important to reach out to family, friends, or support groups who can provide emotional support and practical assistance. Sharing your experiences and concerns with others who understand can help alleviate the burden and provide valuable advice.

3. Please take breaks: Carers need regular breaks to recharge and rejuvenate. It is vital to schedule regular breaks throughout the day, even if it's just a few minutes to relax, meditate, or engage in a hobby. Consider respite care options to provide temporary relief and allow for longer breaks.

4. Set boundaries: It's important to set boundaries and communicate your needs to others. Learn to say no when necessary and delegate tasks to others when possible. Setting realistic expectations and boundaries can help prevent burnout.

5. Practice stress management techniques: Explore stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or yoga. These techniques can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

6. Maintain a healthy work-life balance: Carers often struggle to balance their caregiving responsibilities with other aspects of their lives. It's important to set aside time for personal activities, hobbies, and socialising. Finding a balance between caregiving and personal life can help prevent fatigue and maintain overall well-being.

7. Seek professional help: If carer fatigue becomes overwhelming or persistent it can lead to other physical and mental health issues. It may be beneficial to seek professional support. Your GP or therapist can provide guidance, support, and coping strategies to manage fatigue and stress.

Challenge the belief that carer's fatigue or burnout is a weakness on your part. Remember, managing carer fatigue is not selfish but essential for providing the best care possible for your loved ones. Taking care of yourself allows you to better care for others.

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