There is often a certain amount of joy and sense of accomplishment for caregivers as they guide and support loved ones through healthcare journeys. The demands placed on them aren’t small but for those who can embrace the challenges, ask for help, and manage through the obstacles without burning out, true satisfaction awaits. The results of effective caregiving are easily identifiable through the improved healthcare outcomes of the care recipients.
Fortunately, the role of caregiver is beginning to gain in prominence within health and life sciences experience and engagement programs. Care for patients with some of today’s most troubling diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer is improving by preemptively offering caregiver support through experience and engagement programs.
These caregiver focused programs should be developed in conjunction with patient programs and focus on aiding the caregiver through the physical, emotional, and financial stresses associated with this degree of responsibility.
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the recommendations for caregivers to prevent stress and burnout:
- Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be willing to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week.
- Focus on what you are able to provide. It's normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
- Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine.
- Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Caregiving services, such as transportation and meal delivery, may be available.
- Join a support group. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through.
- Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support.
- Set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to establish a good sleep routine or to find time to be physically active on most days of the week.
- See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you're a caregiver1.
The most salient point for health and life sciences organizations, like health plans and pharmaceutical manufacturers, is to take the well documented strategies for alleviating caregiver burnout and adapt them for caregiver engagement programs.
It’s often hard for caregivers to ask for help and sometimes they don’t even know there are resources available. Isn’t it time we started offering caregiver help as part of patient healthcare treatment plans and experience programs?