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Caring for Elderly Parents: 6 Tips for Avoiding Carer Burnout

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Mum had rheumatoid arthritis for years, suddenly and unexpectedly she was disabled by the pain, fatigue and limited mobility that she had feared since her diagnosis.


You and your other siblings knew that caring for sick mother fell on your shoulders and everyone looked up to you for your ability to act with grace under pressure. Now have you somehow managed to convince your fiercely independent mother that living without support from a Carer was no longer an option. This is where the challenging part begins.


You have taken time off work and cooked and froze meals for your partner and three children to go and spend time with your Mum suddenly you feel overwhelmed on how you would coordinate Mum’s care from a distance; Supporting your husband, nurturing your kids and being relevant at work. All this is undeniably taking a toll on you and you are now running on empty.


One out of four people in the UK cares for a friend or relative who is sick, disabled or frail.

Doing this on your own affects your ability to nurture yourself and others. Carers are competent people who feel that they should be able to do this job, yet many soon find themselves unprepared to manage the daunting tasks such as managing a complex medical terminologies and procedures, moving things around the house to make it wheel-chair accessible or even finding someone to stay with their loved ones so they can go out with friends without worrying about their loved one falling or needing emergency attention. For your sake and the sake of those who count on you, please get some help.

If you are a carer, you know that this act of love has its costs; from not being able to go to work, unable to freely go on family holidays to giving up hobbies and social activities. Caring places a burden on your health and Carers are often at increased risk for depression, anxiety, depressed immune function and even hospitalisation.

Instead of reaching out, carers become isolated, does not want to trouble others with their problems, some fear the consequences of disclosing their new demands to coworkers or employers. Our society easily turns a blind eye to the unpleasant and inevitable reality that all of us will age and die. This secrecy and gap in knowledge leave both carers and care recipients unprepared and the consequences of this are all around us.


What can you do? Start talking about the “what ifs” and make a plan.


1. Start with yourself:

What will happen to you and your family if you become disabled or die unexpectedly? Do you have the correct insurances? Do you have a will? Do you have a living will and have you identified the person who will make the medical choices you would make if you are not in the position to do so?


2. Approach healthy family members: 

Say, “I hope that you live many happy years in which you enjoy all of the pleasures you worked so hard to create.” Have you thought about what would happen to you in the event that you cannot live independently any more? If some medical event befalls you, who would make your medical choices?


3. Look into community resources that support carers:

A daycare, for example, helps your loved one by providing social connections with peers. Your community may even offer transportation to and from the program. Getting out of the house offers the additional benefit of getting bodies moving. Socialising and exercise are the two most powerful interventions that help your loved ones stay at their best.


4. Make specific suggestions to friends, family members and neighbours who want to help:

You may even want to keep a “help list.” When they say, “Let me know what I can do,” you have a response: “Could you take Mum to her appointment this week?” “When you go shopping, could you pick up some oranges for Mum?” “Could you watch the kids for an hour so I can get to the gym?” Your friends will appreciate specific ideas about how they can help. So instead of thinking you don’t want to bother them, why not find out specifically in what way they are willing to support, after all, that’s what friends are there for.


5. Take care of your health:

Get good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise to stay in top health. Wash your hands regularly to prevent colds and flu. Manage your stress with laughter, a prayer or even a deep breath. Nourish your soul with a taste of activities that recharge your batteries such as writing in your journal or gardening. Finally, talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or anxious.

Lead Care Services Limited (Stevenage Hertfordshire) can support in various ways from once a day call outs to live-in care support. It is important to look for trusted and highly personalised care services like this in your area. check us out at www.leadcareservices.co.uk for more details

The best strategies for effective caregiving include preparation, acts of self-care and reaching out for help. That begins with the courage to start talking openly about caregiving.


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