Signs Of Caregiver Burnout And How To Overcome It with Madam Kamala
2:41PM Mar 12, 2021
Hi guys, it's Nicholas Chee here from Homage. Welcome back to another episode of Homage Web Series. We are very honoured to have Madam Kamala with us today in this episode. Madam Kamal is a trainer from Caregiver Academy International based in Johor Bahru. She is very experienced in the caregiver and nursing industry. She has 24 years of experience in this industry, starting out as a nurse in the Ministry of Health to being a lecturer and also a trainer for nursing students. Welcome Madam Kamala.
Happy to have you here today. So in -
Nice. In today's web series, we will be covering the topic of caregiver burnout. So without further ado, we will jump right in. A lot of the families are very hands on in providing care for their loved ones who are actually experiencing medical conditions that make them less independent and also they require assistance for their daily living activities, and after some time, these family members who are taking care of their loved ones, start to experience burnout. So actually what does caregiver burnout look like? And is there any symptoms that we should look out for Madam Kamala?
So before I answer your question Nicholas, just like to briefly give you, or give the audience an idea that, who are these caregivers. Anyone, anyone who provide care for another person is actually, who is in need, is actually a caregiver. So this caregiver may be caring for an aged parent, or dementia parent, or someone with chronic illness or terminally ill loved ones. And there is another type of caregiver. These are actually, they are professionals who are paid to provide care in another home. Okay. Coming back to your question of what does caregiver look like. Actually it's very hard to see them in their face you know, who actually are the burned out. In fact, you can look out for some symptoms of these burned out cases.
And in fact, when you see a person is a burnout, actually, a burned out is a person who is in a state of physical, emotional, and actually mental exhaustion, that means they're so exhausted. But the extent that they are like a burned out, they just cannot function, like they have been functioning prior to this. Okay, now if you see symptoms actually the symptoms can be divided into the physical symptom, the emotional symptom, as well as some psychological or mental symptoms. Now, a person who is burnt out, may not show all the symptoms. They may show some symptoms or they may not show the other symptoms. But actually they are going through burnout. Okay, if you say about physical symptoms. Alright. The common- common burnout symptom is fatigue very fast. That means they tire, they lack energy that means they don't have the energy to get up and do something that they have been doing often or they have been doing daily, alright. Some may have the sleep problem. So this sleep problem maybe they're having some insomnia, or they may be having hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is just sleeping all the time, they tend to sleep more than the required time. Insomnia is just that they have difficulty falling into, into a sleep, or they may get up very early, and they are unable to sleep back. Alright there are some cases where you can find that they have some change in their eating habits. So some tend to eat a lot. And again weight. Some just no appetite, and they lose their weight. All right, the most- the most common or the critical symptom that you can see in a person is they lost interest, that means whatever they have been doing previously for example if they like to socialise, if they like to have- go out with friends, or they like to do things that they love to do, but now they just lose the interest and they withdraw from all these activities. Okay, those are some of the physical symptoms.
But coming back to again the emotional symptoms, as well as the mental symptoms. Alright some may even show like decrease in interest. Interest in their work production, for example, if they're working in some- some homes and all. You'll find that initially, when they come in, they're very productive, but as days goes by, there is no interest to do new things in the area of their work. And if you see emotional symptoms. These people, they lack that- lack of- or they stop laughing. They- they are not interested to be joyful. To enjoy you know to laugh, to sing, to dance you know those kind of emotional interests diminishes as they progressive. Right. And then, the most important thing is they move away from their social context. For example, their normal friends, you know the circle of working friends, they tend to be on their own. And sometimes you will find that when you talk to them, they always like to say a feeling of hopelessness. That means they feel that they have no passion. They, they are not interested you know, to do what they like. They feel that whatever they like to do, in fact is, is not giving them any satisfaction.Okay. And if you're not clever enough or you are unable to detect them, these burnt out clients may even go into a depressive state, or they may even go into anxiety levels where they have this palpitation. You know they fear to go out or sometimes they fear that something might happen, you know, Nicholas.
Yes, thanks for sharing. So from these symptoms, it seems that it's not easy to detect and it can also lead to very serious cases like depression, anxiety, if it's not being treated well. So from your past experience, is there any useful tips or guidance that you know you can share with our caregivers out there to overcome this kind of burnout issues?
We must always understand that every individual or every person who is a caregiver, they go a different- they have a different reason to be burnout. Important thing is to understand and find out the cause. What is actually giving them that burnt out feeling. I would say that for this kind of burnt out caregivers, they must help themselves, and they must get support from others. So they cannot come out of it alone. But there must be somebody to support them. That means there must be some other people who give them some tips, some help, some caring words, you know, for them to start off the day. Even you can just give a simple tip to that caregiver. All right, when you get up in the morning, think that the day is going to be what you expect the day to be. Avoid the negative thoughts, get up in the morning with a positive thought. Because humans always understand when the thought is negative, your emotion becomes negative, and your behaviour will be negative. But if you get up with a positive thought, your emotion will be positive, and your behaviour will be a positive behaviour.
All right. And secondly, you must always tell these caregivers that when they care for people, they should not blame themselves. You know, I had one client who called me. And she said she's taking care of her mum who is actually is the dementia case. She feels that she must take care 100%, take care of her 24/7. She, she feels that she's the best carer for her mom. At the end of the day she's actually neglecting what she needs for herself. She do not have any space for herself. That means she spends most or all the time, caring for her- for her loved one. I don't blame her. But there is some something as you must have some personal space for yourself. Otherwise you will end up as a burnt out because caring for dementia or Alzheimer's disease is not an easy task, because as days goes by, they tend to deteriorate. How much can you give also they will deteriorate, because you only care, your care will be more of to progressive deterioration. So this case. She caught up and she was talking to me, and then I just understand that she's so so worried that some other people may not take care of a loved one like what she does. Right, so I was just talking to her and I suggested, why can't she start off with, like, a few hours in a daycare. That means she can send her loved one to a daycare for about four hours. Then in the four hours, she can have her own space. That means she can do whatever that she wants to do. So we brought her, brought her and the mother for like an orientation. And she started off quite well. She started off once a week only. And she used to come, you know she used to see how the mother you know, likes the place, progressing you know, and she participate in the activities. That gives her a lot of comfort, comfort in that way that she feels that okay my mum is in a safe hands when I am not with her. And gradually she was very happy because she was able to do whatever things that she has not been doing for herself. She might have- she was able to do errands, she was able to have some time some social life with her friends, and then she will come back, and she will take back her mum. And she's very, very happy, and she's progressing very fast from her burnout because basically that was the problem.
Another case that actually she is actually a professional caregiver. And she was working in a- in one of the elderly care homes, and then she also called up. And she said, I've been working in this place. I'm so worn out, I just got no interest, I go to work and I just come back. I have- I don't have that satisfaction. Even when I come back home to see my family to have some nice time or fun time with a family. I just don't have that feeling. Then she took a short break and then she came for a special short, short course updates on what she need to do with the elderly. Now basically what was her main problem was, she was working there without knowing anything. It's just learn from what people are doing. This is what they do, I do without really doing, why am I doing, am I improving, am I giving good care. That was the question that was going in her mind all the time. So when she was taking this short course. There was lots of things that she actually managed to understand, to manage to understand that she needs to communicate, she need to communicate, not only with the aged clients but she needs to communicate with the other management staffs. She needs to tell them that what, what are the ideas, what are the things that she need to improve in that place, you know, and the management need to understand what are the requirements of this caregiver. So in that way she was really very, very appreciative that a little knowledge that was given to her. Need to come for a short course. Actually when she came back she was giving very good quality care for the elderly, and she was able to communicate very well with the superior, to the staff, to the other people. So why I'm saying this, if you are a caregiver in a home, the management also need to understand that these caregivers can also go and be burnt out. In fact, they have a lot of ideas, they have a lot of ways, a lot of new, new ways on how to care for and they need an avenue or they need somewhere they want to talk it out. So that is very important. Okay, that is about one- another experience that is by a professional caregiver.
Even in recent times Nicholas, you know this pandemic and all. People with special children, they even call up. I'm so worked up ma'am, I just can't go out my children is at home. I have to take care, I really need that- I love to go and watch a movie, you know, these are basic stuff that they used to do but now they're so unable to do. Just a simple thing to go for a swimming with my special child, I'm unable to do.
So my advice to her was, why do you have to think you have been doing such things before? Why don't you reconstruct that environment back again. For example, why don't you let's say okay you are saying to me that, let's be practical you say you love to go for a movie. Why don't you do that at home? Create that environment you may or may not get that 100% environment that you're going for a movie. But create that environment. Create. Just get the Grab guy or somebody to just send you some popcorn you know. Create that environment. That will make you very happy. So, in fact if you say- one of the tips, is just little little things that have to identify and with the support of the family members, definitely they can slowly, slowly come over the burnout.
Definitely. That is very helpful tips for our vieweres here. So actually, if I have a family member or close friend who is currently experiencing caregiver burnout, what can I or should I do to help them? Should I speak to them understand their situation, and then get them professional help, like professional caregiver to speak to them and consultant them? Things like that. What, what are your thoughts on this?
If you identify, oh, you know there is someone your family member or anybody for that matter friend. You can just call them. You can just talk to them. But don't use words like this when they say, oh, I'm going through a lot of exhausted, oh it will come over, you will come over. Those kinds of words, actually it doesn't help them. When they call you they expect you to give some form of help, some form of listening that they want. So it's actually when a person calls if, if somebody calls you, they have all- they have actually used up all their resources, and they got no other resource to come over this feeling, and they're seeking help. So it's your responsibility to help these kind of caregivers who call you. If you can make a visit. Now, there are a lot of reasons you know now with the, with the COVID-19 unable to visit. Do a video call. Okay, definitely when you do your video call, you can see the expression, you can see how she goes through that, you know that the feeling that she- he is having. Alright. And when you- when you advise these kind of caregivers. You always advise them on what they're supposed to do. If they have certain, certain things that they want to achieve in their life, tell them to set realistic goals. For example, if they are caring for someone who is terminally ill. All right, is a caregiver who is very terminally ill. So they have to set a realistic goal that you're not, you're not going to expect the person to get up and walk, or they're not going to do what they have been doing previously. What you can do is you can make them feel comfortable with whatever care that you give them, and always tell them that they should not feel guilty that they have not done anything to improve the condition. That is a very important thing because the care actually is something that you give, but if the condition deteriorates, they should not blame themselves. Okay the condition deteriorated because my care was not given to the expectation. No. Because you have given your best, alright. I have a friend who is actually, she's taking care of her mother, who is actually in the stage 4 of cancer, very sad. But she is really very, very burnt out, taking care. At the end of the day she know that she's going to lose the loved one. But, how we managed to help her burden, her stress is what we do is we take each one of us every week, we will take her dinner- we will cook for them, we will cook for the family. So we have about one day she does her own. Out of the seven days, six days each of us will take one dinner. That means today, I will take another day, another friend will take another day, another sibling family will take, and there is another sibling, and another friend. You know so six days, we help her out in that way, that means she's not burdened with thinking, what am I supposed to cook for my family member and here I'm caring for my loved one. In this way, it helped her a lot. Alright. And we also have other social supports. For example, you have befrienders alright you can just tell them, you can talk to befrienders. You have the Talian Nur, you can talk to them. They can give- they listen very well, and they give some suggestions you know, and sometimes they also do referrals for you. They help out telling you where can you get your help, so that you can- it's easier for you to know where you can seek that help.
And don't forget, you set your own personal health goals. You have to advise the caregiver that she cannot be looking after the person who is sick or need her care. She has to set her own personal health goals. She needs good sleep, she needs good food. She needs to sleep she need to have the space for herself. And then only she can take care of the elderly or the Alzheimer's disease or the loved one that she is caring for. But again and again I would like to say that the the burnt out individual have to be very positive. And she should accept that help that is given to her. You have to get that help from the others too.
Yes, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It is very educational and it is important for us to raise awareness of caregiver burnout, to prepare ourself before it happens. And of course to help those who are experiencing it already, so that we can get them out of those burnout experiences. So for everyone out there if you are experiencing caregiver burnout, please use the tips that Madam Kamala has shared today. And if you are looking for professional caregiver services, you can call our hotline today, we are here to help you. And finally, I would just want to put a disclaimer out there. So this health information is provided for general information, and educational purposes only and it is not a substitute for professional help- health advice. So to seek further medical advice for your medical conditions. Please do consult your doctor or go to the nearest institution to get assistance. This video only represents the speaker's view on caregiver- caregiver burnout. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for having. It was great to have you with us today. We will see everyone on the next episode of Homage web series, stay safe madam Kamala. Thank you. Bye bye