Never before have we been more apprised of the horrific incidents that occur every day throughout the world. Our emotional attention cannot be stretched any further as the level of our empathy has already been stretched thin enough.
One of the most emotionally draining jobs is that of the caregivers whose compassion fatigue can reach to a point where it may start threatening the safety and proper care of people who require long-term services and supports. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and compassion fatigue are some of the many mental health challenges that they face due to their challenging profession of selflessly providing care to others.
So, what is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue, also known as vicarious traumatization or secondary traumatization, is a disorder that results from being exposed to working with another person’s traumatic experience. This happens unconsciously and can create a very high level of emotional and even physical stress.
A caregiver may undergo a variety of feelings such as the following:
· Anxiety or anger
· Feeling of disconnection
· Sleeping disorder
· Existential crisis
The reality of compassion fatigue is prevalent throughout the caregiver community. To add to that, COVID-19 has added visible impacts on both the lives of essential workers and family caregivers. Constantly caring for someone who is chronically ill or dependent on others for care is physically and emotionally draining. Furthermore, when the pandemic hit, the demand for caregivers drastically increased causing caregivers to even consider retirement given how exhausted they had become. The same is true for family caregivers who also have no separation from the person they look after and work day and being at home. They have to constantly look after someone else day and night without any separation or break.
At a webinar on “Paying Forward and Investing in Children Now: Demographic changes in Bangladesh Trends and Policy Implications”, Tomoo Hozumi, country representative of Unicef, shared that Bangladesh will turn into an aged nation in 18 years and only Singapore is ahead of Bangladesh in terms of the duration to be an aged nation from an aging country. So, Bangladesh is set to have a huge number of elderly who would require care and nursing to sustain themselves.
How can we identify compassion fatigue? With the rise in the number of elderlies in Bangladesh, we also need to be prepared to address compassion fatigue in caregivers. We can refer to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families chart to easily identify whether one is facing compassion fatigue. As you go through the chart, check whether you or a loved one has ever experienced any of the following emotions while caring or nursing for someone:
A significant amount of research suggests that compassion fatigue is common among family caregivers, especially those dealing with complex cognitive and physical conditions. There are strategies that can help prevent and manage compassion fatigue. In addition, you can identify the signs of compassion fatigue.
To help all caregivers, use the following guide to help you prevent, identify, manage and discuss compassion fatigue:
· Balance of work & life
· Build in relaxing time
· Connect with nature
· Learn to say ‘no!’
· Focus on your self-care
· Find professional support (i.e., counseling, therapy)
· Lean on others for support
· Join a support group
· Consult medical advice
· Monitor symptoms
· Pay attention to personal behavior changes
· Ask others for feedback
· Enhance your ability to communicate
· Share your experience
· Ask for help
Home and Community Care (HCCL) can help
Caring for those who have played important roles in our upbringing can be rewarding. Through HCCL’s wide array of caregiving services at home, your loved ones will be in our safe hands. We are located in Dhaka and just a knock away. Contact +8809678771382 / +8801777772541 for more information.