Family or friends tasked with the care of loved ones can easily suffer from symptoms of chronic stress. They can actually suffer from the loving care they’re providing to someone else. Compassion fatigue is a common problem for caregivers assisting someone who has been injured, ill or traumatized. Caregivers are trying to be of help, however, caring for someone who is elderly, ill, or incapacitated can create an overwhelming burden on one’s mental, physical and emotional capacity.
Similar, yet different from burnout, compassion fatigue is less predictable in its onset, which sometimes comes suddenly. Burnout can take a longer time to emerge. Acute burnout might mean that someone experiencing it will find it necessary to leave a job or even an occupation. In a case of compassion fatigue, someone can be treated without needing to change the environment. There are specific things one can do for self-care when caregiving for a loved one.
It’s essential to recharge in between caregiving shifts. Mother Theresa knew the potential for compassion fatigue, so she mandated that the nuns who worked around her had to take at least one year off duty every 4 to 5 years for healing.
Compassion fatigue can cause emotional pain and suffering, so the first thing to do to help a caregiver is to learn the symptoms and then the tools for managing the stress in a healthy way. If you provide care for a friend or loved one, ask for additional help before things get too hard on you.
Chronic exhaustion (emotional and/or physical
Feelings of dread, impending disaster or guilt
Feelings of inequity toward the caregiver relationship
Loss of meaning in caregiving
Withdrawal, isolation, or feelings of being disconnected
Apathy or a lower threshold for compassion or empathy
Destructive behaviors or substance abuse
Problems arising in other relationships
Anger, irritability, anxiety
Although you love the one you care for, that may not prevent compassion fatigue. Comfort Keepers® understands your demands of caregiving. We can provide caregiving services, respite care, and senior care services for you and your family in need. Receive the amount of help you need for your loved one so you can also take care of yourself. You can contact us anytime for you to talk to one of our expert about our home care services.
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