Compassion and Care for the Caregiver

Posted on

Oct 27, 2017

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Every day, millions of people who are responsible for caring about others find themselves at risk for stress and burnout. Paid care providers, administrators, family members and others find themselves dealing with intense issues which elevate their stress response and create mental or physical distress, errors in judgment and care, absenteeism, turnover, gaps in care and increased mortality for both care providers and patients. Stressed people make mistakes; preventable medical errors are now the third leading cause of mortality in the US. Care providers to must also work to identify stress and respond in healthy ways.

Causes of stress vary as do solutions. Some people find meditation helpful while others find it more helpful to exercise and be very active. We all experience stress but care providers often ignore their own needs. Family caregivers also face unique stressors than paid providers; their shift does not end at 6 pm. Studies confirm that spouse/partner caregivers with health issues are more than 60% likely to also be deceased within four years after the death of the cared for person. Caregiving can be rewarding but also expensive, frustrating, and deadly.
Care providers can learn new skills sets and learn to set healthy boundaries, ask for help, and even learn to say no at times. Caregivers, who are often empaths or highly sensitive people, should surround themselves with other givers and avoid toxic people. Exercise, setting goals, taking time away, breaking up routines, pleasure reading, and exploring spirituality are healthy responses to stress. Caring people must be forgiving of themselves, practice asserting themselves, and also learn to incorporate wholeness and new life into their days. As we demonstrate kindness and healing in our busy and wounded world it takes intent, practice and patience to identify stress and respond in healthy ways. And all those people who taught us to show compassion would demand that we look into the mirror first, fighting for the needs of the person we see.

Editors Note:
R. Scott Boots is the founder of HCEI.org which teaches resiliency skills to persons at risk for stress and burnout. For more information please visit HCEI.org, email HCEICares@HCEI.org or call 773-509-6402.

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