Familial caregiver burnout during elderly care

What is caregiver burnout?

Familial caregiver burnout during elderly care is common. When caregiving leaves a person completely exhausted physically, emotionally and mentally, in psychological parlance such a condition is called caregiver burnout.

Familial caregiver burnout during elderly care
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Elderly care: When caregiving takes a toll on the familial caregiver

When a sick relative is completely dependent on a family member for Activities of Daily Living, it may be very hard on the familial caregiver. This is especially true if he or she has not had special training in caregiving. In most cases, familial caregivers have other responsibilities like looking after the family and a full-time job. For those who are employed, it could mean missing work or in extreme cases quitting the job to focus on caregiving. Any leisure time to pursue a hobby or watch a movie is lost. Communication with friends lessens. Psychologists say that you can be an effective caregiver if you care for yourself.

Elderly care: In the words of a primary caregiver

Familial caregiver burnout during elderly care
Shanti Jha is a 76-year-old woman whose condition deteriorated after a cardiovascular condition in 2012. Gradually, she developed Parkinson’s disease and dementia too. Until late 2016, Ashutosh Jha was the primary caregiver helping his mother with everyday tasks like dressing, toileting, bathing, eating and managing medication. His mother became more and more dependent on him with every passing day and handling multiple demands of care was all-consuming. In addition to this, he also had to focus on his job at BHEL.

Reflecting on those days when he was the sole caregiver for his mother he says, ”Last year mujhe kaafi takleef hota tha. Subah Subah inko nahlake nashta karake jaata tha. Mujhe paanch baje uthna padtha tha. Phir lunch mein ake thoda dekhta tha. Bahot bhag daud mera life tha. Abhi to kaafi had tak kam ho gaya.” (Last year I used to find it very difficult. Every morning I had to bathe and feed my mother before leaving to work. I used to wake up at 5 am. Then again during lunchtime, I would come back home to check on her. I had a hectic life, but it’s far better now.)”

Elderly care: When a professional caregiver stepped in

Chandamma Kanhar is a 28-year-old trained, skilled caregiver from Life Circle, a home nursing care provider. She looks after Shanti Jha from 7 AM to 7 PM. After Chandamma stepped in, Ashutosh can focus on his job and run errands without having to worry like before about his mother. Chandamma assists Shanti with toileting, feeds her, prepares tea for her, gives her medicines on time, and takes her for strolls in her wheelchair. Now and then, she lifts and moves her from the bed, wheelchair and toilet seat. When Chandamma goes on leave occasionally, the combined efforts of two caregivers working in her place are not able to match her skill, compassion and sense of responsibility.

Caregiving as a career
Familial caregiver burnout during elderly care

What the caregiver has to say

Chandamma who is from Odisha came to Hyderabad with her husband in pursuit of a good job. With immense pride, she says, ”Life Circle mein 2 saal ho gaya. Maine to kabhi socha nahi tha ki itne kum padhai mein aisa job mil jayega. Main kabhi hamare gao se door hi nahi gayi thi. Itna bada city ko ake kam kar paongi maine kabhi socha nahi tha. Is liye mein Life Circle ko dhanyawad dena chahati hoon.” (It has been 2 years since I’m working in Life Circle. I had never imagined that despite being less qualified, I’d be able to pursue such a job. I had never travelled far from my village. That I could come and get a good job in a big city was beyond my imagination. For this, I am grateful to Life Circle.)

Elderly care: Seeking a professional caregiver

The quality of life among family caregivers can be improved by reducing their burden and burnout. Availing services of a professional caregiver can help in preventing burnout. A bonus is the difference the money you spend can make to the life of a needy person by allowing her to choose a safe and dignified vocation – that of a geriatric caregiver.

About the author

Madhumita is a familial caregiver to her mother-in-law who lives with dementia and a full-time mom of a bubbly 3-year-old. She meets and interacts with Life Circle’s clients to understand various aspects of Geriatric care and care needs with the aim of serving our clients in a better way.

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