I sat with a client and her daughter a short time ago. We talked about plans to allow Care N Assist to provide support services so the daughter could take time for herself. She was apprehensive. She couldn’t make up her mind about the days and times she wanted help. She was only meeting with me because her  sisters had told her to do this.

I sat with another client and her daughter yesterday. This daughter knew that she needed help. She wrote out a list of days and times that she needed help with before I arrived. It was her mother, the client, who was upset and didn’t think it was necessary for her to have anyone else help.

In both of these circumstances the caregivers encountered some conflict. The expectations that they had of themselves as they faced their circumstances are very different, but they are both at risk of caregiver burnout.

It was an inner conflict for one and an external conflict for the other. Feelings of burnout usually start out as we encounter circumstances that are out of our control. You may feel like you do not have the expertise. You may be worried that you are not strong enough to physically do all that is needed. It is possible that the client’s wishes are in conflict with your wishes for them.

Please don’t think that I am comfortable with the idea of caregiver burnout. In the absence of physical or financial limitations I believe in the value of caregiving. As human beings we are capable of doing much more than some would think. I believe that love and helpfulness while our lives change makes us mature and unselfish.

Both of these qualities take a lifetime to develop, but as a wise friend once told me, it is not selfish for us to take care of ourselves. The airplane stewardess always instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, right?

With this being said, it is smart for you to do what you can for yourself before you do the work of caring for someone else. Try these things to take care of yourself; exercise, meditation, eating smart foods, and distraction.

If you need expertise or support you can hire help from an in-home care agency like Care N Assist. In partnership with other health care workers we can create a plan that resolves most conflicts. You can have caring partners helping you along the way, and this can go a long way to preventing caregiver burnout.