East Bay CNA from Hillendale Home Care is licensed by the State of California to provide Certified Nursing training courses for Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

How to Overcome Caregiver Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue in caregivers can become overwhelming if not effectively managed.

Caregivers devote so much of themselves to those they care for – both physically and emotionally. It’s easy to become depleted and to begin to experience effects such as apathy, exhaustion, and a detachment from the person in your care. Known as compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress, it can be detrimental to your own wellbeing but can also impact your ability to be as caring, warm, and nurturing as you need to be for the person you’re caring for.

In contrast to caregiver burnout, which occurs gradually over time, compassion fatigue can arise suddenly and unexpectedly. You may truly want to continue providing care and support, but you simply feel too overwhelmed. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms, compassion fatigue may be the culprit:

  • Exhaustion (physically, mentally, or both)
  • Dreading your care responsibilities, along with feelings of guilt
  • Irritability, anger, and/or anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Reduced feelings of empathy or sympathy for the person in your care
  • Isolation and disconnection from friends, family, and enjoyable activities
  • Problems with other relationships
  • Decision-making difficulties
  • Questioning whether you’re accomplishing anything with your caregiving services

How to Overcome Compassion Fatigue

If the description above sounds like what you’re experiencing, there are steps you can take to help.

  • Rate your feelings. Take a simple self-assessment by ranking how you’re feeling each day on a scale of 1 – 10. If you find yourself in the 9-10 range of compassion fatigue symptoms, talk with a professional counselor.
  • Take time for self-care. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary for your own health as well as the wellbeing of the person in your care. Make it a priority each day to engage in enjoyable activities, exercise, healthy eating, and time with friends and family.
  • Find support. Join a caregiver support group, whether in person or online, to allow you to talk through your feelings with others who understand and can share coping skills that have worked well for them.
  • Write it down. Journaling is a wonderful way to release stress and sort through difficult emotions and decisions. Reading back through your entries will allow you to track any patterns in your feelings. Perhaps you feel most fatigued late in the afternoon, and can set aside a few minutes each day at that time to meditate, pray, listen to calming music, take a walk – whatever helps you best de-stress.

At Hillendale Home Care, the leading provider of home care assistance in Pleasanton and the surrounding areas, we’re here to help our caregivers overcome difficulties like compassion fatigue and truly enjoy their role as caregivers. 

If you’d like to learn more about a career as a Hillendale caregiver, our East Bay CNA School is a great resource to get you started! Contact us online or at (925)297-2676 to learn more. 

Watch for These Signs of Depression in Seniors

There are several key signs that could indicate depression in seniors.

Most of us go through periods of time when we simply want to be left alone for a while with our thoughts, to think through circumstances in our lives without any distractions, or simply to enjoy a little downtime. For older adults, however, the desire for isolation for an extended period of time can point to a more serious condition: depression in seniors.

As a professional caregiver, it’s crucial for you to know the warning signs to watch for and what to do if a senior in your care may be experiencing depression. Depression is treatable, and the sooner the senior can receive care from the doctor, the better.

Keep an eye out for the following signs of senior depression:

  • Loss: A variety of types of loss can lead to depression or other medical concerns: lost weight, a lost desire to eat, the loss of the senior’s value and self-worth, a loss of interest in activities or pastimes that the person previously enjoyed, or the desire to spend less time spent with family or friends.
  • Slowing Down: Pay attention to whether the senior’s movements or speech have slowed down, if it takes the person longer than before to discuss or recall memories, or if you notice a lack of motivation or energy.
  • Changes in Sleeping Patterns: Depression can have a significant impact on sleep routines, including difficulty with falling or staying asleep, problems with waking up, or trouble staying alert and awake throughout the day. 
  • Forgetfulness: Keep an eye out for changes in how the senior takes care of herself; for instance, if the person has always been meticulous about having good personal hygiene and outward appearance, but suddenly starts to disregard personal care, or any other crucial changes like forgetting to take medications, to follow a healthy diet, etc.

There are a number of additional medical conditions that can also exacerbate depression symptoms. Be especially mindful if the senior is also struggling with any of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • MS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia
  • Thyroid conditions

If you think a senior may be experiencing depression, it’s important to take action and not to simply disregard it as something the person will get over on their own. Depression in seniors is a chronic medical condition that requires correct diagnosis and treatment. Contact your supervisor’s office to let them know the symptoms you’re witnessing.

Family caregivers need to know that they are not alone. Our Walnut Creek home care and care throughout the surrounding areas provides an extra set of eyes and ears to catch any changes in a senior’s condition and ensure steps are taken to help. 

Additionally, professional caregivers play a crucial role in a senior’s overall health and wellbeing through:

  • Friendly companionship to provide motivation to engage in exercise programs and social activities
  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Providing transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Running errands
  • And more

Contact us online or at (925) 297-2676 to learn more about our CNA and HHA training program and the possibility to join our exceptional caregiving team.