What is compound caregiving? Compound caregiving is providing care to two or more people at once. Caregivers may also have children at home and work a full-time job while providing compound caregiving. Often, caregiving is usually sudden and unexpected. Maybe you have an elderly or sick parent or other family members with no way of caring for themselves. You see a need, and you accomplish it without much help.  For some, it could mean caring for a disabled adult child and two elderly parents at the same time. Others may be caring for grandparents, parents, and an ill spouse every day. If a compound caregiver cares for an older adult and has minor children at home, we call them part of the “sandwich generation.”  This is a growing group of caregivers. One study found that compound caregivers reported an average of 52 hours a week on caregiving duties. Not to mention the isolation, loneliness, and increased workload put on other family members as well. Some people just don’t realize how much time, energy, and sacrifice caregiving takes. There’s no question about it, caregiving can be pretty challenging and cause the highest levels of stress. Caregivers can be so completely focused on someone else that they stop focusing on themselves. This can eventually lead to burnout. Burnout is a medical condition. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, burnout is characterized as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.” You may not recognize you’ve hit burnout until it’s too late when you’ve crossed the line between tired to too exhausted to function. It’s not probable to eliminate caregiver stress, but there are many techniques to give yourself a break and reduce the adverse effects on your body and mind. Guilt is part of who we are as caregivers. There will always be a difference between what we can do and what we think we should be doing, which causes guilt. Don’t aim for guilt-free caregiving. Finding a balance of self-care and support is key to successful caregiving. The first rule to giving full care to anyone else is taking care of yourself first. It’s the most important rule in caregiving. Take the analogy of being on a plane for instance. When the oxygen masks descend in front of you, as we’ve been told so many times before, you must put your oxygen mask on before you assist anyone else. This same rule applies to caregiving. We can’t adequately take care of anyone else without taking care of ourselves first. This may be mentally, spiritually, and/or physically. When your needs are taken care of, that’s when you can provide the best care to your loved ones. Take time for yourself and take micro-breaks when needed, add a few moments of gratitude into your day, and get support. Getting support is a necessary key factor in successful caregiving.  Asking for and accepting help may be one of the best solutions for caregivers to eliminate some burdens they feel. You can find help with local volunteer programs. Many cities have local volunteer programs or service organizations that provide help or companionship for seniors. Consider a respite. Finding temporary care for your loved one so that you can step away from duties for a few days may be just what you need to get back on your feet. Check with your employer; many employers offer covered respite care as a benefit. Delegating the tasks like household cleaning and grocery shopping can add much-needed support to your everyday life as well. Find Resources. Learning new caregiving skills and education can make your daily life as a caregiver easier. There are plenty of free resources that you can check out to help you every day. Make time for self-care, take simple escapes, eat well, drink well, and reward yourself. These are simple steps to reduce some stress from compound caregiving.  Remind yourself to learn from mistakes, accept anger, forgive yourself, be grateful, and learn to heal. While a caregiving role, much less a compound caregiving role, may seem overwhelming and challenging at times, the benefits and better life you provide for your loved ones are well worth the rollercoaster ride. Embrace all that it comes with, ask for help when it’s needed, and take care of yourself first. For help in Nevada visit https://www.nevadacareconnection.org/care-options/caregiver-support/

Retrieved on September 15, 2022, from:

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2022/improve-self-care.html

https://www.caregiver.org/resource/taking-care-you-self-care-family-caregivers/

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2022/improve-self-care.html

https://www.nevadacareconnection.org/care-options/caregiver-support/

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