November 3, 2015

The Overlooked Caregiver: Take Care of Yourself Too

It’s an unfortunate paradox: Family members who devote countless hours to caring for a loved one may wind up becoming so worn down — physically, mentally and emotionally — that they may need care themselves.
Pamela D. Wilson, a leading expert in the caregiving industry, addresses this problem in her new book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes®. Caregiving can become such an overwhelming burden that family caregivers may become susceptible to what Wilson calls “compassion fatigue.” Symptoms of compassion fatigue include a sense of hopelessness, stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and a persistent negative attitude. Another term used to describe this state is “caregiver burnout.”
Those who experience compassion fatigue or caregiver burnout often feel consumed by guilt. “We feel guilty that we can’t do it all, but the reality is that we cannot do it all,” says Wilson, a Lakewood, Co.-based care navigator who has helped thousands of family members and professional caregivers with the challenges related to healthcare and aging.

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