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Compassion Fatigue: Working Self-Care into Your Dementia Care Plan

It is common for family caregivers to experience a myriad of emotions when providing dementia care for a loved one. On one hand, it can be personally rewarding to provide meaningful care for a loved one who once cared for you. However, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, and even angry. This type of emotional exhaustion is called compassion fatigue and is something many caregivers face.

If you provide care for a loved one or are facing hard decisions about bringing professional care into the picture, you may find yourself placing the needs of others ahead of your own. Self-care, breaks, and outside assistance are essential to every dementia care plan and will benefit you and your senior loved one.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is a state of extreme tension or stress that occurs when someone is helping someone who is suffering or in distress. Compassion fatigue is often a precursor to caregiver burnout and causes family caregivers to feel emotionally drained. Caregivers experiencing compassion fatigue often bottle up emotions, feel isolated, have poor stress management, and may participate in destructive behaviors. [http://www.compassionfatigue.org/]

Compassion fatigue may be the result of providing long-term care for a loved one with a chronic disease, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Family caregivers may at first feel concerned for their loved ones suffering but then eventually start to experience the suffering themselves but in the forms of helplessness, hopelessness, and a sense of isolation. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4683933/]

Finding Wellness for Caregivers

If you identify with compassion fatigue or simply feel the need for support as a caregiver, you are not alone. There are steps to wellness that can help improve your caregiving experience, which will benefit not only you but your loved one and family as well.

  1. Recognize the Signs
    Compassion fatigue cause caregivers to act uncharacteristically towards loved ones. This may include yelling, resentment, isolation, and/or guilt. Being able to recognize these changes in yourself or a family member who is a caregiver can help you make positive changes in your dementia care plan. This will benefit your loved one with dementia and the caregivers providing for them every day.
  2. Make a Daily Self Care Plan
    It can be easy to commit so fully to caregiving that you no longer properly care for yourself. Self-care is an essential part of a dementia care plan for caregivers. Self-care can include exercise, taking breaks, asking for help, and talking about frustrations with trusted friends or professionals.
  3. Find and Utilize a Support System
    Family caregivers often feel personally responsible for the well-being of a senior loved one. It is important to recognize and utilize dementia care plan resources such as siblings, friends, and professionals that can assist with caregiving. For loved ones with dementia, there will likely come a time when professional assistance is required to maintain their well-being. Research dementia care options before you become overwhelmed.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not one of weakness. Knowing your limits and when to ask for professional caregiving assistance is the best thing you can do, not only for your senior loved one but for yourself as well. Consider ComfortCare Homes for your dementia care needs in Wichita, KS.

Resource: Dementia Action Alliance

For more information about the Alzheimer’s disease care services provided by ComfortCare Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532.

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