Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

There are so many things for a caregiver to do after someone has a stroke that the caregiver can get overwhelmed and ultimately have burnout. Debbie, my wife and caregiver when I had my stroke eighteen years ago quickly realized that life cannot completely revolve around me, the survivor. While it is a typical situation after a traumatic event which a stroke is, it’s not healthy or productive.

A way Debbie found to avoid burnout was to maintain her outside activities. Debbie continued to teach school and even kept teaching her Adult Education women’s exercise class several evenings a week.

She recommends others do the same. However if the caregiver is employed you might let the supervisor know about the situation and hopefully get a bit of slack. In this manner the caregiver will not be in an overly stressed out situation if during the work day they have to make calls or do other caregiver tasks having nothing to do with work.

Other factors in avoiding burnout were treated in a study I found which was published a few months ago in Stroke Connection, the American Heart Association publication. The study noted:

  • That “older, active and confident caregivers were the happiest;”
  • Being and staying in better physical health was important to avoid burnout;
  • And continuing with hobbies and activities as Debbie did was most helpful to caregiver well being.

Another issue in burnout is personal caregiver stress. I found a study out of Northwestern Medicine which addressed this issue and found that-

The greatest amount of stress emanated not from the patient, but rather from friends and relatives. I was frankly surprised. Relatives and friends often showed, “a lack of understanding and help” according to the study. That actually could be a threat to the caregiver’s own well being. Clearly, not good!  Debbie said that though she fortunately didn’t experience that stress she met others who had. The stress came from second guessing which can often be very emotional and destructive.

And finally family tensions in connection with money and long-term financial considerations can lead to caregiver emotionalism and ultimately burnout. All, less than constructive!

Hail the caregiver and give them support, not aggravation!


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Author Bob Mandell is a stroke survivor and the author of the forthcoming book, Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor which will be published in February 2015.

The picture is of Bob and his wife caregiver, Debbie

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