Irritable? Tired? You Could Be Experiencing Burnout
Jennifer Liles Says...
Absolutely irritability and fatigue can be signs of burnout. Caretaker self care is both one of the hardest and most essential parts of taking care of loved ones.It sounds like you are caught between a rock and a hard place.
It might be a very good idea to reach out for help from someone, at the very least to get respite from helping your father. If you have another adult in the household or a close friend, that is a good resource. You might call local senior centers to see if they know of any resources in your area for respite.
You say you have two teenage children that you care for in addition to your father. One thing that might help tremendously for your self care is to give those two teenagers some of the responsibility you're shouldering, particularly the heavy lifting. It does teenagers no harm and generally a lot of good to assist with caretaking, and could help ease your burden.
Without knowing your specific situation, I don't know how much preparation you would need to get your teenagers into helping mode. Perhaps they are already helpful kids, or perhaps they are currently enmeshed in fairly normal teenage selfishness and you're struggling to get any help from them.
Sitting them down, one on one or both together, whichever works best, and outlining your expectations with regard to their help with household chores, their grades at school, or any other issues that are compounding your caregiving efforts, and then following through to ensure that they do what you ask them to do will be a great investment.
In the short term, getting your teens on track toward helping you, either by picking up some of your other responsibilities or through directly helping you with care giving duties, will probably add to your exhaustion and irritability. It'll be work to get them to change patterns of letting you do stuff for them. But within weeks or a month or two, where you had three care giving burdens you may find that you now have one care giving burden and two (semi) reliable helpers.
Again, I don't know your particular situation. If one or both of your teens has disabilities of their own that require care giving, clearly this doesn't apply. However, underestimating a child's ability and willingness to pitch in to help the family is very common, and you may find yourself surprised at just how much your teen is able and willing to help, when given the opportunity.
This requires balance. Make sure you're not passing your burnout to others, including your teens, but do set limits on what you are able and willing to do yourself. If you need more specific answers, feel free to follow up with more detail.
Page last updated Aug 01, 2013