Keeping an eye on ‘burnout 101’ in our caregivers

Here’s a possible Trivial Pursuit question, “What’s the fastest growing unpaid profession in North America?”

DR. GIFFORD JONES

Here’s a possible Trivial Pursuit question, “What’s the fastest growing unpaid profession in North America?”

I admit I wouldn’t have known the answer. But, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 65.7 million Americans, that’s 29%, provide care to a family member, loved one or friend who is ill, disabled or aged. But when does such labour of love trigger burnout anger?

A report from Johns Hopkins University states, “The average unpaid, or informal, caregiver is a 46-year-old female with a full or part-time job who spends about 20 hours a week catering for her mother.”

But for those caring for a loved one older than 65 the average age is 63. One-third of these caregivers are also in poor health.

Another study carried out in Sweden revealed the shocking news that 18% of people older than 75 were involved in the care of others!

For these elderly caregivers this isn’t what they expected to be doing in their golden years! I’m sure while they’re carrying out these arduous daily tasks they must share the thought of the German philosopher Nietzsche who remarked, “There is no greater misery than to remember happier times.”

The problem with an aging population is they suffer from a variety of problems.

Sooner or later the demands of time and energy made on some caregivers triggers a reaction, similar to the last straw that finally breaks the camel’s back. This crisis occurs when they have neglected their own health for too long.

Caring for others is also a dangerous job. For example, in one study caregivers, aged 66 and over, had a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.

The physical task facing caregivers can be overwhelming. But according to experts it’s the mental toll that is more likely to bring caregivers to their knees. They suffer from loneliness, anxiety, fear of the future, depression and at times anger at the person they’re caring for.

It’s small wonder that they require more anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs than the general population.

So how can caregivers cope with physical and mental stress day after day?

First, it’s vital that they don’t put their own health at the bottom of the list. This is a sure formula for Burnout 101. Family members must keep a wary eye on the caregiver and realize there’s a crisis in the making if they notice her or him reaching for alcohol, having difficulty concentrating, suffering from insomnia or thoughts of suicide.

This is a time when other family members must share the burden.

Caregivers who remain silent and uncomplaining are quicker to suffer burnout. It’s important for them to ‘let it out’ with a family member, friend, clergy or a counselor. It’s also prudent for them to get some form of exercise daily.

And to find time during the day for something they enjoy, whether it be reading a book or watching a movie.

Remember that many of the diseases that afflict the elderly have major organizations to provide information on how to handle difficult situations. They also provide support groups in your area.

Caregivers must be ready for emergencies. This means trying to plan ahead for the dangers that could occur in the community. For example, you may live in an area that is prone to sudden snow storms. What will happen at sub-zero temperatures if electrical power shuts down for days?

Others who reside in tornado regions need to plan an escape route and how to handle someone in a wheelchair.

Moreover, even with a plan of action, you won’t get far if the car hasn’t an ample supply of gas.

Caregiving involves so much work and stress it’s no wonder the handler suffers Burnout 101. The bad news is this problem is going to get worse.

See the web site www.docgiff.com. For comments info@docgiff.com.

 

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read