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Combatting Compassion Fatigue

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Combating Compassion Fatigue and Burnout for Caregivers and Professionals
Grand Canyon University HLT 310V Gail M Biggers

3/7/2011

1

Ms Marie Armbruster
March 6, 2011

3/7/2011

2

Health care professionals and care givers devote their time caring for others and often forget to care for themselves. The end result is the conditions known as “burnout” or “ compassion fatigue”. The care giver and health care professional can take steps to prevent fatigue and mend their physical and mental health.
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The definition of “burnout” according to Christina Maslach, a psychologist and first supporter of the challenge, defined “burnout” as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion. Herbert Freudenberger who declares that he coined the term says that burnout is a loss of energy and the feeling of being overwhelmed by others problems.
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Since caregivers are needed to perform strenuous and physical activities, this can stress the body. This can consist of: Lifting a patient, (in and out of bed, wheelchair, bathtub, or car). Turning the patient, bathing, feeding, cooking for the patient as well as for themselves. Also additional shopping.
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Emotional demands can present a problem. When caring for someone who is ill or disabled it can be emotionally stressful. Often the person you are caring for may not remember you, have difficulty following directions or telling you what they need especially if the patient is diagnosed with dementia. When providing care you may also find that the patient
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may have a combative nature or wander a way. Dealing with this type of behavior can lead to the caregiver to become frustrated, angry, or resentful towards the people you are giving care. Physical tasks along with emotional stress and Socioeconomic demands can manifest themselves into compassion fatigue and burnout.
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Socioeconomics are and can be part of the problem. Caregivers find themselves in the position where as the job they perform is thankless and is almost done without pay and reimbursement. This type of care can also be expensive. Just the day to day items needed for care are not covered by insurance.
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Frequent signs of caregiver stress: 1) Feeling sad or moody 2) Crying more than normal for you. 3) Having low energy 4) Feeling like you don’t have time for yourself. 5) Changes in your sleep pattern (not sleeping or sleeping too much)
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6) Eating pattern changes (not eating or eating too much) 7) Staying away from friends and family 8) No longer interested in hobbies 9) Feelings of anger and resentment for the person who you are providing care for. Having these feelings is considered normal and have the tendency to happen time to time.
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The main thing to focus on is that the caregiver must also take care of themselves as well. You are absolutely of no good to the patient if you yourselves are stressed out and sick also. Self care is vital step in recovery. What it takes to eat well, exercise, reflect, and make choices can over and over again engulf the exhausted caregiver.
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In order to start the recovery process the caregiver must be able to recognize that there is a problem. Seek out support by talking to someone who is experienced, open-minded professional who is caring and look forward to clear results is a clever choice and better than talking to people who are feeling as dissatisfied as you.
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If you find that you are having some of these symptoms and you go without treatment burnout is a option. When burnout occurs you feel so overcome that you are not able to care for the client or yourself either. If this is happening you should seek help. Taking a break does not define you as a failure but helps in restarting and revitalizing one’s
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self. Some of the solutions to combating compassion fatigue is to have 1) well balanced diet 2) Sufficient water intake 3) take vitamins 4) decrease sugar 5) alcohol consumption 6) and caffeine Following this list can promote wellness.
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Additional suggestions, as well, utilized in preventing compassion fatigue and burnout among caregivers are as follows: 1) Regular exercise helps with sleeping habits as well as contending with stress, depression and anxiety. 2) Maintain a routine for naps and sleep so the body can adjust to a pattern.
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3) Listen to positive sounds to stimulate relaxation and help with sleep. 4) Meditation and prayer , deep breathing exercises, are other options to use to help in falling asleep. 5) Warm milk, relaxing bath, reading something pleasant, or journal thoughts would help before bedtime.
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If sleeplessness persists the caregiver should discuss medication options with their physician. Caregivers must realize that in order to provide adequate care to their clients they must take the time to be in good healthy condition themselves. This includes both physical and mental. It can be unmistakably seen that
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fatigue and not enough sleep can have a bearing on the ability of the caregiver to perform their job. Family members who provide care are at risk of not noticing the their needs and the solutions available to them. Needing help is not a sign of weakness someone else can take over while the caregiver can fall back take time for their selves, rest and recharge.
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