Family caregivers have a tough job. Caring for another person’s health while caring for your own can be overwhelming as much as it is rewarding. Many times, caregiving for someone living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia is unknown, and while other family members may help, it usually falls to one person in particular. Finding yourself in this uncharted territory may bring on a variety of emotions, including fear, guilt, sadness, and even anger.
As more and more caregiving tasks fall to one person, he or she may start to develop caregiver burnout. While we at Franklin Park Senior Living admire and respect those undertaking these responsibilities, we know it can be challenging at times.
One of the most beneficial ways to combat caregiver burnout is through family caregiver support groups. We want to share the benefits of these support groups to help maintain caregiver health and improve the quality of care you provide to your family member.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is defined as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. As a family caregiver, it can develop if you overexert yourself without taking the time to care for your needs and wants.
“Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. Caregivers who are "burned out" may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression (Cleveland Clinic).”
Beyond not caring for yourself, setting unrealistic expectations for your care, dealing with unreasonable demands (from yourself or other family members), and feeling as though you lack control can lead to feelings of burnout. Symptoms of caregiver burnout can include, but are not limited to:
- Feelings of depression
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns.
To learn more about caregiver burnout and how to prevent it, we encourage you to read our previous Franklin Park Senior Living blog, Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout.
Improving Your Level of Care
One of the benefits of joining a family caregiver support group is that you’re able to connect with individuals undertaking similar responsibilities. This allows you to listen and learn about certain techniques or yield ideas or tips that may benefit your caregiving routine.
Learning news techniques and hearing from others in similar situations can improve the overall level of care you provide to your family member.
Opportunities for Socialization
The most significant part of a support group is finding just that - support. Support from individuals who understand the obstacles you may be facing or the challenges you are dealing with as you take on your new role.
Joining a support group can help you combat the effects of caregiver burnout by not feeling alone with what you are experiencing. Being able to discuss your problems with people who truly understand your circumstances can make you feel less isolated and alone, help reduce depression, and help teach you about other social, financial, and health resources that you may be unaware of.
These groups also give caregivers the ability to socialize with other people, which is an integral part of maintaining caregiver health. Depending on your situation, being a family caregiver can consume the majority of your time and prevent you from taking care of yourself or having the time to do things you once did i.e., meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Beyond the socialization aspect, you can develop more meaningful relationships with those who are experiencing similar challenges and events as you.
Support Groups at Franklin Park
One of the ways Franklin Park Senior Living hopes to help family caregivers is through monthly support groups. Our support groups are designed to provide emotional, educational, and social support for family caregivers through regularly scheduled meetings. We encourage caregivers to maintain their own personal, physical, and emotional health to efficiently care for their family member living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. We hope through these support groups that participants deepen their problem-solving skills and become more adept at handling the stress that accompanies caregiving.
Even with support from other family members, attending a support group led by professionals, with people who are experiencing similar situations, can be beneficial for first-time caregivers. These support groups provide an environment where caregivers are free to share, interact, and learn from each other in a safe environment.
In addition to in-person support groups, many organizations offer online support groups available for anyone who is caregiving for family members. One of these resources is Family Caregiver Alliance – which offers several different online support groups.
Know When to Take Time for Yourself
A caregiver support group can help, but if you are experiencing caregiver burnout symptoms, it may be beneficial to make arrangements to take a step back from your caregiving duties to reflect and refresh. While caring for your family member is important, so is your own health. Respite care services, like those offered at many Franklin Park Senior Living communities, can be utilized to ensure your family member receives the necessary care while allowing you time to rest and relax.
Respite care services provide a family caregiver with peace of mind while their loved one enjoys the amenities and benefits of living in a senior care community. At Franklin Park Senior Living communities, guests have access to amenities, social gatherings, and events.
If you would like to learn more about our caregiver support group, services, or communities, we encourage you to contact our Franklin Park team!