DURBAN – South Africans are now months into “shelter at home” decrees, as the Coronavirus continues to make its devastating mark on the world. For carers of people living with dementia, isolating at home means being the primary or sole caregiver around the clock piling stressor on top of existing stressors, and making burnout an ever more imminent threat.
According to Clinical psychologist, Louis Awerbuck caregivers are vulnerable during this time because of the emotional burden they shoulder, and that they are keenly aware that there are very few aspects of human behaviour that we can control.
“We try our best to soften the anxiety of others, knowing very well that we do not have any answers or the ability to provide certainties in others’ lives. More than often, we are the last barrier between life’s random onslaughts and a patients’ inability to adequately cope with the anxiety caused by these onslaughts,” he said.
Awerbuck says there are often early signs of burnout apparent in the way you deal with those in your care. “If you are mentally fatigued, chances are that your own anticipatory anxiety is filtering into your caregiving.”
Four indicators that your mental reserves are running in the red:
- Struggling to maintain concentration while working;
- Getting irritated with patients;
- Secretly wishing that the day would pass as quickly as possible;
- Not being able to remain in the moment with patients.
Caregivers, he adds, “have to guard against psychological burnout, and we have to monitor ourselves. Nobody else will do it for us.”
If you are a family member or spouse of a dementia patient, there are support groups to help you connect with others. Livewell runs a free dementia Facebook support group where like-minded people can connect with Livewell experts and other families experiencing the same struggles.
Keep up to date on Livewell’s free wellness talks and support groups here
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