Estimates show that between 40-to-70% of caregivers experience significant symptoms of depression.
While there are RCFE classes to learn how to care for others, it is equally as important for administrators to learn how to help their caregivers practice self-care in order to remain positive and productive in their caregiver role.
Being a caregiver can be an emotionally fulfilling occupation. Providing personal assistance to enhance a senior’s life can bring joy to the senior and to his family knowing their loved one is being properly taken care of.
However, the job can carry with it many conflicting emotions such as fear, sadness, loneliness and underappreciation. The daily tasks of taking care of an elderly or ailing person can be very challenging. Because of the complexity of what it takes to take on the role of a caregiver, some doctors think of caregivers as “hidden patients.”
As an RCFE administrator, the best thing you can do for your staff’s physical and emotional well-being is to encourage caregivers to take time out for themselves. This helps prevent burnout and allows them to rejuvenate so that they can be the best caretaker they can be.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout
How do you know if your employees are experiencing caregiver burnout?
Look for common warning signs that indicate an individual needs to make changes in order to protect their physical and emotional health:
- Experiencing overwhelming anxiety
- Fatigue that doesn’t improve with quality sleep
- Digestive problems
- Escalating unhealthy habits (i.e. smoking or drinking alcohol in excess)
- Chronic backaches or headaches
- A change in personality or disposition
Here is a list of 6 things you can share with employees, so they can be more positive and productive:
- Take time to do something you love – Being a caregiver does not mean that you have to deprive yourself of doing things you love. Participating in activities you enjoy such as reading, taking a walk outdoors or having lunch with a friend, is essential. Self-care is vital to avoiding caretaker burnout, so find something outside of caregiving that is satisfying to you.
- Don’t neglect your physical well-being – Eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol and tobacco use are all important for both your physical and mental well-being. Taking care of yourself physically helps your overall emotional health and allows you to better take care of others.
- Express Feelings & Emotions – Keeping your emotions bottled up is not healthy. When we suppress emotions such as grief, anger and frustration it can manifest itself into physical stress in the body. Joining a support group or confiding in a friend can be helpful ways to talk about your feelings and to connect with others going through similar situations.
- Practice positivity – Create a journal where you take a few minutes each day to write down some things you are thankful for or that make you happy. Whether that’s a beloved pet, a funny cartoon or a favorite song, jot down those things that boost your spirits. Then review your list when you are feeling extra stressed to boost your mood and shift your perspective.
- Keep humor in your life – Laughter has more benefits than you think. Laughter creates endorphins, reduces stress, stimulates circulation and helps to increase oxygen-rich air in your body. What makes you laugh? Whether it be a movie, a book, watching a comedy, or hanging out with a fun friend, increasing humor and laughter in your day-to-day activities will benefit you greatly.
- Set Boundaries – Setting realistic expectations is important for everyone, but especially for caregivers. Know your limits and give yourself permission to say “no” to activities that you do not have time for right now. Remind yourself that it’s okay to set boundaries with your time and energy as a way to focus on your own mental well-being.
How Attitude Can Make a Difference for Caregivers
The National Institute of Health (NIH) maintains that caregivers have both positive and negative responses to their role. Your goal as an administrator is to show that caregiving doesn’t have to be a burden. Caregiving is a worthy profession and can be very uplifting.
When it comes to caregiving it is important to release the need for perfection and adjust expectations to reflect reality. Being realistic about what can and cannot be controlled in a given situation is essential.
While caregivers cannot control the chronic or progressive disease of the person they are caring for, or the impact it will have on that person, they can control how they respond to the situation.
As an RCFE administrator, you can help reduce burnout and stress for employees by giving them tools to help them recognize and manage stress.
Caregiver attitude can be the biggest factor when it comes to self-care and job performance.
Here are helpful ways caregivers can keep a realistic and positive mindset:
- Acknowledge your limitations
- Listen to your body
- Stay connected with the outside world
- Learn the signs of chronic depression
- Insist on getting respite care
- Remain in the present
Help Caregivers to Better Help Others
Teach caregivers how to take care of themselves and remain positive. While the demands of being an RCFE Administrator are many, guiding staff through potentially overwhelming circumstances can decrease turnover and increase job satisfaction for all.
Assisted Living Education is the leading provider of RCFE certification classes, licensing, products, and services for assisted living. Our teachers are industry professionals with many years of experience that are engaging, entertaining, and highly informative. Learn more about how we help RCFE professionals.