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Caregiver Burnout

Judie Rappaport
Eldercare 911: The Caregiver's Complete Handbook for Making Decisions
April 11, 2011

"Why do they call it 'Burnout'?  When a light bulb burns out, I replace it and it's fixed.  To fix MY burnout, I'd need a mother who can take can take care of herself for a couple of weeks and a brother who helps instead of saying, 'Caregiving's your job." I'm not 'burned out'; I'm charred beyond all recognition.  I have to save myself before you need my dental records to find the person I was two years ago. I'm leaving Mom at my brother's home while he's at work with a note: "Your turn; left town for a while."

First thought: "Wow! That'll wake your brother up to your needs!" (Note option: 'Left town for a while; will return when you commit to sharing the load.')

Second thought: This might not be good for Mom and you may end up suffering emotional trauma.

Which lead me to my more-helpful-long-term third thought: How do so many caregivers get into this situation?

  1. Some caregivers help create problems with the "No one can care for Mom like I can" syndrome.
  2. Others are "it" - there's simply no one else to step in.
  3. Too many believe society's brainwashing manta that labels burnout as an 'unavoidable part of the job.' Don't buy into this fable.

 Get an attitude!

  1. Tell family members they share an equal responsibility for Mom and you will no longer do this job alone. 
                •  You expect them to provide three respite days each week where they or
                    professional caregivers take over. 
                •  If you live with Mom, advise your family you expect them to care for her or hire 
                   professional caregivers for at least one week-end each month while you take time for yourself.
  2. Call the organization most closely matching Mom's illness (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Heart/Stroke, etc.). Explain your situation and ask for help.
  3. If Mom/Dad is or was a vet, or is a vet's widow/widower, ask the VA for help through their "Aid and Attendance" and their "Geriatric and Extended Care" Programs."
  4. Call your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque for help.
  5. Stand firm and have some fun:  Attitudes are useful for payback as well as help! 

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight, & Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©


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