Family caregivers dedicate so much of themselves to the ones they care for – both emotionally and physically. It’s easy to grow to be exhausted and to start to experience feelings like indifference, weariness, and a detachment from the person in your care. Known as compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress, it may be harmful to your own wellbeing but could also impact your ability to be as warm, caring, and nurturing as you need to be for the person you love.
Unlike caregiver burnout, which occurs gradually over time, compassion fatigue may arise out of the blue and unexpectedly. You may truly want to continue providing care and assistance, but you basically feel too overwhelmed.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, compassion fatigue may be the reason:
- Fatigue (mentally, physically, or both)
- Dreading your care tasks, together with feelings of guilt
- Irritability, anger, and/or anxiety
- Problems with sleeping
- Less feelings of empathy or sympathy for the person in your care
- Isolation and separation from family, friends, and fun activities
- Problems with other relationships
- Problems with decision-making
- Second-guessing whether you’re accomplishing anything with your caregiving services
How to Alleviate Compassion Fatigue
If the outline above feels like what you’re experiencing, there are measures you can take to help.
- Place a numeric value on your emotions. Take a quick self-assessment by ranking how you’re feeling each day on a scale of 1 – 10. If you find your answers in the 9 – 10 range of compassion fatigue signs, schedule an appointment with a professional therapist.
- Prioritize time for self-care. Taking proper care of yourself is not self-centered; it’s required for your own health as well as the health and wellbeing of the person in your care. Make it a priority every day to take part in pleasant activities, exercise, wholesome eating, and conversations with family and friends.
- Obtain support. Join a caregiver support group, either in person or virtually, to allow you to discuss your feelings with others who can empathize and can share coping skills that are working well for them.
- Write it down. Journaling is a fantastic way to relieve stress and work through complicated emotions and decisions. Looking back through your writings will allow you to pick up on any patterns in your feelings. Maybe you feel most fatigued late in the day, and can reserve a few minutes each day at that time to meditate, pray, listen to relaxing music, take a walk – whatever works best to help you de-stress.
At Harmony Home Health & Hospice, the leading provider of elderly home care in Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas, we’re always here to help you alleviate compassion fatigue by serving as a trusted partner in care. Our wide range of home health care services provide seniors with the care and attention they need, while offering you much-needed time to yourself. Contact us at 1-877-I-NEED-Care to learn more!