Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 20

Holistic Health

How to avoid caregiver burnout

It ’ s a serious problem , but help from support groups and counselling can alleviate stress and fatigue .

With the increase in chronic diseases like dementia that require round-the-clock care , many caregivers , most often family members or relatives , are at risk of both physical and psychological stress .

Taking care of someone with debilitating and longterm conditions is a taxing job that often includes preparing meals , bathing , giving medications , and managing all medical needs and appointments . It ’ s no surprise that , for some caregivers , this can be too much and lead to burnout .
“ It ’ s a real phenomenon and shouldn ’ t be ignored ,” Dr Laura N . Gitlin , an applied research sociologist and dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University in Philadelphia , told Health . “ It ’ s when a caregiver reaches a state of physical , emotional , and mental exhaustion due to ongoing ( and in most cases extraordinary ) and constant care responsibilities .”
She added that caregiver burnout is often due to lack of rest or time for themselves . Signs can include anxiety , loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy , changes in sleep and eating patterns , and feelings of hopelessness and anger towards the person they ’ re caring for .
The study Caregiving Strain and All-Cause Mortality found that caregivers who reported high strain also had higher mortality rates than those who experienced some or no strain . It also backed up previous research showing that stressed out caregivers faced a greater chance of adverse health outcomes .
A good practice for caregivers in such situations is to seek help before they burn out . A support group could be an option for some , while others may seek counselling with a specialist . Taking breaks from caregiving responsibilities is also a good way to avoid burnout .
“ Respite is extremely important ,” Dr Martinique Perkins Waters , assistant professor in the Department of Behavioural Sciences at the University of West Alabama , told Health . “ If possible , ask members of your family to assist with care . Even if they ’ re not close enough for day-to-day respite , they can make phone calls for services , search the internet for resources , or even have food delivered to the house so you have one less thing on your to-do list .”
The association Dementia Singapore , for instance , provides caregiver support with several group activities where caregivers can recharge or share their experiences while learning useful tips from others .
The Malaysian Mental Health Association also offers peer support for caregivers to discuss their concerns and find a supportive community . They can participate in coaching and education programmes as well .
“ When the going gets tough , it can help to remember that you are not alone . Do not hesitate to reach out for support when you need it — not just for the care recipient ’ s benefit , but also your own ,” Dr Nur Nabila Abd Rahim , a doctor of public health candidate , and Dr Rafdzaah Ahmad Zaki , associate professor of epidemiology at Universiti Malaya , wrote in the New Straits Times .
Signs can include anxiety , loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy , changes in sleep and eating patterns , and feelings of hopelessness and anger towards the person they ’ re caring for .
18 MAY 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com