When consulting with confused families who have elderly parents, I’m seeing increasing numbers of people with Carer Burnout.
I’m a failure
Sadly, they admonish themselves for being weak, unable to cope and a failure.
Nothing could be further from the truth. These adult children love their parents. They’re stretched between their own children and grandchildren, their partners, their work and their parents who claim that they’re coping.
The parents genuinely believe they are coping because their children are doing the washing, cleaning and shopping. Freezers are being stocked with home-cooked meals because Mum or Dad refuse to lower themselves to register for Meals on Wheels.
They won’t ring an ambulance, expecting their son or son-in-law to drive around to pick them up each time they fall. Back problems and declining mental health are becoming real issues for the kids doing the constant rescuing.
Carer Burnout looms large
The first fall is unfortunately the start of the revolving door syndrome. As people age and their mobility becomes less reliable, falls are often inevitable. Many of our elders assume that when they return from hospital they’ll be good as new.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. The medicos will get a person out of crisis, and they’re discharged, often to the care of their family. Thus begins the slippery slope of the decline. Trips to hospital become more frequent, hence the revolving door analogy.
Caught in the Downward Spiral
As with a spiral beginning at the outer edge, this journey will accelerate, often with a feeling of being sucked into the void. Carers may be so busy with their folks’ needs that they don’t see the burnout taking hold.
Others around them can see the Carer Burnout happening, but may have their head bitten off for mentioning it. Tension mounts, nerves are frayed and the helplessness creeps in like a thief in the night.
Been There … Done That
Just in case you’re wondering if I know anything about this subject, or if I’m just a theory monger, let me tell you a little of my story …
Seven years ago my mother-in-law had a meltdown. I brought her home to live with us and she was tricky. She was in the depths of despair from living alone, even with a lot of visits each week from family.
Every day began with us sitting on the garden seat at the front, Granny with a cup of tea and with me working my darndest coaxing her into the day. Each day was the same, week after week, with our ninety minute ritual.
My work was piling on my desk waiting to be done. I work for myself. Granny didn’t consider that to be a proper job. So I was the family member who scored the job of not only looking after Granny, but trying to find the best Aged Care Home for her.
Her Case Worker with the In-Home Care agency rang one day and said she was going to provide two hours a week respite for me. “I don’t need respite,” I said. She argued, “You’ll go mad if you don’t have a break from her demands on your time.”
I just assumed that this was normal, but to her experienced eye, she knew the signs and was about to short circuit my attempts to do it alone!
You’re Not Alone
With multitudes out there experiencing Carer Burnout, I decided it was time to write a post on the subject.
Too many carers are thinking they’re the only incompetent son or daughter in the world. They’re not incompetent – they’re simply navigating unknown territory whilst shrouded with emotion.
It’s my mission to Simplify Aged Care Issues to relieve stress, allowing families to enjoy their time with Mum or Dad, rather than being frazzled by not knowing where to start.
Thankfully help is nearby – if you know where to look. There are professionals who can assist with the complexities of our Aged Care system. With the help of the right professional, family mediation can assist in getting all the family onto the same page.
Asking For Help is Lifesaving
Many carers fail to realise that there is a very real possibility that their health, mental or physical, may decline before the person for whom they’re caring. Hence – double trouble.
By asking for help before Carer Burnout takes hold, the entire journey may be much smoother.
I’ve been given the opportunity by a local council to spend three Saturdays consulting with families to Simplify Aged Care Issues. My reward is seeing the look of relief on their faces when they have an Action Plan giving them a starting point.
A Carer Support agency in your state may have just the help you need for your situation right now.
Reach out to them, whilst the wheels are still on.
What CoVID Taught Me …
During lockdown I realised that using Zoom I’m able to help families anywhere in the world with parents anywhere in Australia.
With a range of trusted professionals around Australia I can link bemused families with the right person, giving them the best help – quickly.
If I Can Help …
If anything in this post resonates with you, please reach out. Don’t go it alone letting Carer Burnout sap your energy, your time and your quality of life.
Here’s to a smooth onward journey …