Preventing Caregiver Overload
Individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities sometimes require extensive assistance from caregivers and family members in order to live their best lives. The daily demands of caregiving can be emotionally overwhelming and can, over time, put stress on caregivers’ health and interpersonal relationships. Let’s dig into some ways caregivers can experience burnout and how in-home and facility-based respite care services can help prevent overload.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Stress and Burnout
Providing long-term care for for an individual with an intellectual developmental disability can be an amazingly rewarding experience, but it can also lead one to neglect their own emotional and physical needs. After years of providing high levels of care, it can be disheartening to accept a loved one’s condition might never improve, despite the caregiver’s best efforts.
The signs of caregiver stress and burnout are akin to individuals suffering from anxiety or depression. Irritability, difficulty sleeping or constant exhaustion, a change in behaviors or habits are common indicators a caregiver might need to seek external guidance. Without disruption, such stress can manifest in memory issues, poor judgement, negative outlook on life, a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, and even physical symptoms like illnesses or high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.
Empowerment and Acceptance
While the stresses of caregiving can manifest physically, it’s important to consider that much of the stress stems from how a caregiver faces their situation. A positive state of mind is necessary to embrace the choice to become a caregiver, as is accepting the situation as it is, rather than blaming yourself or others. This will allow a caregiver to see the positives of caring for an individual with an IDD, focus on what they can control rather than things beyond their circle of influence, and see the positives as small victories.
Know You’re Appreciated
Depending on the severity of an individual’s intellectual developmental disability, they might be unable to tell their caregiver just how much the attention and care is appreciated. It’s important to accept that even if they can’t express their appreciation, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t otherwise. In the same vein, it’s important to be one’s own biggest cheerleader and to seek out a supportive friend or relative who will listen to the challenges faced as a caregiver but keep things focused on the positive elements of being a caregiver as well.
Know When to Seek Respite
While you’ve embraced the role of caregiver, it doesn’t mean that you’ve agreed to act in this capacity indefinitely without any break at all. Being honest about your own needs and the needs of your charge, you can work out a personal care schedule that gives you the opportunity to step away.
One tool at your disposal is the use of respite care services. Whether you’re seeking an in home respite care service solution or a facility where your charge can be cared for while you take care of day to day tasks, Hands of Heartland can give you the break you need. Supporting caregivers in Bellevue and Omaha, Hands of Heartland can provide individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities with the routine and uninterrupted care they require while allowing caregivers the space and opportunity to retain their sense of self.