Tag Archives: caring for elderly parents

Are You Suffering from Compassion Fatigue?

Worn out by Compassion Fatigue?

Worn out by Compassion Fatigue?

Caring for a child, a disabled sibling, an ailing spouse or an elderly parent can take a huge emotional toll on the caregiver.  Caregiving is an act of compassion that can lead one to an unsustainable level of selflessness; and in this selflessness, cause damaging, long-term effects on the caregiver.  Whether you believe asking for help is a sign of weakness or have convinced yourself that you are the only one capable of adequately providing the level of care you perceive is needed, you unwittingly set yourself up for experiencing the exhaustion, stress, frustration and isolation that it can create.

In medical circles, the ultimate fatigue and burnout that this situation can create is referred to as ‘Compassion Fatigue’.  This develops out of the demanding nature of showing ongoing compassion for somebody whose circumstances are likely not going to improve.  The caregiver may go through the motions of continuing to care for the loved one but, over time, the compassion diminishes.

In the worst case scenario, this can lead to neglect and/or abuse of the loved one requiring the care!

Some of the warning signs that you may be suffering from compassion fatigue are:  Abusing drugs, alcohol or food; anger; blaming; depression; hopelessness; emotional and/or physical exhaustion; GI complaints; frequent headaches; sleep disturbance; diminished sense of personal accomplishment; increase irritability and; less ability to feel joy.

Caregivers need, and deserve, a healthy personal life.  When a caregiver makes the effort to keep a balance between their empathy and their objectivity, they are able to realize the need for and to create a healthier self-care plan.

Set aside some time to nurture yourself.  When the caregiver is rested, energized and in a positive frame of mine, the caregiving load becomes a bit lighter.  Taking this time for yourself may feel selfish and unnatural at first, but commit to doing at least one thing each day that is focused on your enjoyment and benefits your sense of well-being.

Identify the things about caregiving that cause you the most stress.  Look for ways to eliminate them as much as possible or make sure that you create a routine that allows you to balance those activities with things that you may enjoy or at least find less stressful.  Don’t line up all of the stressful activities in a row; break them up and spread them out!

When you are feeling overwhelmed and are juggling too many balls in the air, know your limits.  That’s the time to take a moment to prioritize those ‘to-do’ items and determine what really must be done and what can wait awhile or be eliminated altogether.  Taking these few moments to do this may give you back a small feeling of control in the situation and help to eliminate some of the frustration.

Validate your commitment to providing good care to your loved one by reaching out for some help!  Preventing ‘compassion fatigue’ is going to allow you to provide the good care that you want to offer.  Far from being a weakness, asking for the help you require is a sign of strength in knowing what your own needs are.

So, do more than just survive the emotional grinder of caregiving.  Prevent compassion fatigue by keeping your own needs as part of the caregiver equation.  Both you and your loved one will reap the benefits!

On the journey with you…….Kathy


Preventing Caregiver Burnout – Find Your Tribe

Being a caregiver for an elderly parent can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed.  One thing that I encourage people to do is to find their tribe.  This is a person or group of people that can help be your ‘judgment free zone’; your safe place to fall when you have reached the end of your rope…….



Making this a priority could be the thing that saves you from being taken under by your caregiving role!  Remember to put yourself at the top of the list at least sometimes!

On the journey with you,



Preventing Caregiver Burnout – Setting Limits and Boundaries

I think few would deny that being the caregiver for an elderly parent can lead to burnout!  Sometimes the whole thing can feel like you’re in an emotional grinder; being chewed up and spit out over and over again.  The emotions can run the gambit:  sadness, fear, guilt, grief, frustration….. but also, hopefully, some satisfaction and joy.

Watch this video where I talk about the need caregivers have to set limits and boundaries for themselves and the caregiving to prevent caregiver burnout!

Kathy Eynon, RN, CCM, CTACC, is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant that works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent.  She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: Top 3 Excuses Used to Avoid Helping with Caregiving

Kathy Eynon, Parent Care Alliance

Working Together!

Caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming.  Caregivers average 20 hours a week on tasks to help keep their parents going.  From helping to transport them to appointments, to getting the groceries, to helping with meal prep and household chores, the time and tasks really start to pile up as a parent declines.

In many families, the bulk of the caregiving seems to fall to one of the children; usually the oldest daughter.  But, while it’s most often daughters who end up dealing with the day-to-day care tasks, many sons find themselves handling the finances (though it is clearly not always this way).

But often, in some families, there is one sibling, or more, that seems to always have a reason to be unable to help.   This can be a contributing factor to caregiver burnout.

So ask yourself if you, or someone in your family, are playing one of the excuse cards.

1.  Top of the list is:  I don’t have time.  This somehow insinuates that the ‘primary’ caregiver does have the time which may or may not be true.  Caregivers who have jobs and families can put their own financial futures at risk by taking on all of the caregiving.  And though it may appear that the primary caregiver has the time, more often it is a case of them having made the time (sometimes sacrificing a great deal to do so).

2.  Next up:  I don’t have the money.  While money might provide you with the opportunity to pay for some in-home care services to help alleviate the strain, there are many other things that can help lighten the load (and don’t require money!).  Perhaps that sibling can become the point person for bookkeeping task and oversight of medical insurance and Medicare issues.  Lifting these tasks from a primary caregiver can help a great deal.  Not just because it frees up time, but it also makes the caregiver feel as though they are supported and not in this alone!

3.  To round out the top 3 excuses:  I can’t bear to see Mom like that.  Nobody likes to see their parents decline, emphasis on the NOBODY!  That means the caregiver too.  Many of the things that caregivers end up having to help their parents with, toileting, bathing and dressing, can be very uncomfortable for them.  But they do it anyway because it needs to be done.  They step out of their comfort zone, so why can’t others?  And, yes, there is sadness in having to do these tasks for the one that did them for you, but there can also be great reward in that caregiving.

So whether you are the caregiver hearing these excuses or the sibling offering them, I encourage you to find a way to do this together.  The caregiver may need to ask for more help (and be persistent).  The sibling may need to step out of their comfort zone and find ways to help.  A collaborative effort will go a long way in helping to prevent caregiver burnout!

On the journey with you…….Kathy

Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant that works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent.  She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com.

Video – 3 Reasons Seniors End Up in the ER – Part II

1 out of 10 hospital admissions for seniors is related to a fall/injury!  The good news is that there are things that you can do to help prevent falls and keep your loved one safe.  This video will help you know what signs to look for (that may indicate your loved one is falling) and where falls are most likely to occur!

If you are having trouble determining if your loved one is at risk or would like help with know how to modify their environment to make it safer, please be in touch with me!  Just click on the link in my sidebar for my website, Parent Care Alliance, where you will find an opportunity to schedule a time to chat!

On the journey with you,