If you’re a caregiver taking care of a family member at home, what you do for your loved one every day is no doubt all consuming. From showering, toileting, dressing, and feeding your loved one, to making frequent trips to the doctor and pharmacy – all while keeping up with household chores – you may find you’re losing sleep, and another day comes too soon. If you’re an adult child taking care of an elderly parent, you may also be juggling the demands of caring for your young family or keeping up with a full-time career. The effect over time can be “compassion fatigue” – physical and emotional depletion.
“Spouses and other family members providing 24/7 care are susceptible to compassion fatigue and the risk of burnout,” says Sharyn Fein, founder of Ed-U-CARE, Inc. Her Dallas-based organization aims to increase awareness for family and professional caregivers who struggle to find renewal on their own. Fein’s experience in serving as primary caregiver for her own mother through her mother’s battle with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s led to her founding of Ed-U-CARE.
“Compassion fatigue creeps in over time, eventually exhausting energy and increasing vulnerability to illness,” Fein notes. “Often, caregivers become so engrossed in their roles that they can’t see their own health declining. To take care of others, we first need to take care of ourselves.”
It’s a lot like the sign we see over oxygen masks in a commercial airline, Fein notes. Should the cabin lose pressure, secure your own oxygen mask before helping your children or others. The reason is simple: not getting what you need to take care of yourself will render you useless in helping others.
Fein offers these tips to family caregivers for practicing self-compassion:
- Understand that the fatigue you feel is normal.
- Find someone to talk with.
- Focus on your own daily care needs.
- Exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take some time off by bringing in outside help or seeking respite care.
Learning Self-care Techniques
Caregivers in Dallas County and beyond have a prime opportunity to learn self-care techniques at an upcoming Compassion Fatigue Symposium. Hosted by Ed-U-CARE, the day-long training, titled “Banish Burnout: Creating Motivation from the Inside Out,” will be held Friday, April 12, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas.
Offered at a minimal cost, the event targets those who experience the physical and emotional fatigue common to the business of caregiving – not only family caregivers but also professionals working in senior care and senior living settings, including assisted living, memory care communities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The symposium will offer a certificate of completion for family caregivers and six credit hours of continuing education for professionals.
Kristina Hallet, PhD, ABPP, author of the international best-sellers Own Best Friend: Eight Steps to a Life of Purpose, Passion and Ease and Be AWESOME! Banish Burnout: Create Motivation From the Inside Out, is the symposium’s keynote speaker.
“Kristina’s talk will provide guidelines for finding greater happiness,” Fein says. “She’ll offer practical, easy-to-implement tools for expanding compassion, increasing satisfaction, and banishing burnout.” In the past, the event has also included several interactive sessions on self-healing techniques, such as guided movement, meditation, tai chi, and drumming.
“This event is totally about self-compassion,” Fein says. “With self-compassionate care you do more than survive; you thrive! Participants will leave the conference feeling renewed, refreshed, and awakened to a new way of caring for themselves – and able to extend that care to others.”
Leveraging Outside Resources
Several StoneGate-supported communities provide resources for family caregivers, including caregiver and Alzheimer’s and dementia support groups. If you need a break from caregiving, our respite care programs can offer short- and longer-term stays for your loved one. For those in hospice care, one week of respite care is covered by insurance.
For those who can no longer provide care at home, Stonegate Senior Living communities can also offer assistance in placing your loved one in the right long-term care community. The community staff can also help you find the best ways to finance the move through partnerships with senior financial solution providers. For those without insurance, private-pay plans are available at reasonable costs.
Stonegate Senior Living encourages family caregivers to continue to evaluate what’s best for their loved ones and themselves and also helps offer families guidance on the entire spectrum of choices – and provide support in finding the right solution.
To register for the Compassion Fatigue Symposium, visit https://www.educaredallas.com/cfs.