Compassion Fatigue is Becoming a Serious Issue Among Family Caregivers
Comfort Keepers in Palatine, IL share tips for family caregivers who may be dealing with compassion fatigue.
If you are your loved one's primary caregiver, we understand that your decision is the result of only the best intentions and that you only want the best for your senior parent. Like many other caregivers out there, you may be feeling or may have felt that your ability to assist your loved one has no limits. Taking on such a role can have a multitude of benefits for not only the senior being looked after, but also for the care taker themselves.
However, being your loved one's primary caregiver can also have a negative impact on your ability to empathize with them. In the medical and healthcare profession in general, this decreased empathy is often referred to as “compassion fatigue”. While compassion fatigue typically describes medical and home health care professionals, it can also describe family caregivers who are trying to balance out their lives with the needs of their loved one.
If you think you might be feeling compassion fatigue yourself, it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about the condition. Symptoms include exhaustion, both physical and/or emotional, dread, guilt, irritability, anxiety, or anger, trouble sleeping and making decisions, loss of purpose, and self-isolation.
According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, one of the most troublesome symptoms of compassion fatigue is denial; if caregivers are not honest with themselves about what they’re feeling, they can’t begin to deal with it. Over time, their relationships and life in general can begin to suffer.
The good news is that there is plenty you can do. As caregivers ourselves, we decided to put together a short list of ways to make sure you deal with compassion fatigue as effectively as possible:
- Learn as much as you can about compassion fatigue and its symptoms in order to recognize the warning signs quickly.
- Take care of yourself.
- Spend time with your loved ones outside of caregiving.
- Find a support group.
- Write down what you are feeling, or, better yet, find someone to talk to.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
We understand what it’s like for caregivers. That’s why we’re always here to help. We can take over your responsibilities altogether or provide your loved one with home care from time to time, a service we refer to as respite care.