caring for loved ones

Caring for The Caregiver – Self-care Tips to Avoid Burnout

Caring for loved ones who are ill, injured, or have chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, can be fulfilling and, at times, challenging.  Most caregivers are responsible for helping with personal care needs, preparing meals, managing medications, finances, providing transportation for medical care, and so much more.  Juggling schedules for appointments and giving care is a daily challenge.  It is an understatement when we say caregivers have busy schedules. The everyday struggles and added stress of being a caregiver can often lead to emotional and sometimes physical health risks to the caregiver.  

This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

Who are Caregivers?

Most caregivers find themselves in the role of caring for a loved one or family friend based on necessity rather than experience or skill.  The care approach is a learning experience.  It seems everyone has a busy life, so being a caregiver includes added responsibilities such as career, household responsibilities, and parenting.  Who are caregivers?  They are your neighbors, friends, family members, and millions of Americans across the United States.

Over the last 12 months, approximately 41.8 million (16.8%) Americans have provided informal care for adults over 50.  This number is up from 14.3% in 2015.  According to Statista, 16.9% of the US population is 65 or older and expected to increase to 22% by 2050.  The increase in an aging population means the number of caregivers will increase as well.  

caregivers

Caregiver Needs and Emotional Support

If you know someone who is a caregiver, you know they put in countless hours day and night making sure their care recipient is cared for with respect and dignity.  So, who is taking care of our caregivers?  We should not ignore the importance of emotional support and self-care for caregivers.  When caregivers ignore their needs, they may experience higher stress levels, depression, anxiety, and health-related issues.  Juggling the demands of the recipient and their responsibilities can lead to caregivers becoming burned out.  

Tips to Practice Self Care

If you are a caregiver or know someone that is providing care, the below tips can help you practice self-care:

Don’t Let Guilt Get in the Way of Caring for Yourself

Taking care of your health and sanity should be a top priority.  If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you care for someone else?  Let go of the guilt you might feel for taking a break for your health and emotional needs.  We are all human, and we all have needs we must take care of to stay healthy and happy. 

Your Nutrition is Just as Important as Your Care Recipients

Most caregivers have a schedule overflowing with things they need to do.  For many, this means eating on the go, quickly packaged meals, or not eating regular meals.  Skipping meals and eating fast food can harm your health.  With the added stress of caring for others, your nutrition is critical.  Make sure you are eating as healthy as possible.  Try eating several small meals each day and including healthy proteins, vegetables, and fats.  Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day and avoid processed foods when possible.  Eating a balanced diet can help you stay both physically and mentally healthy.

eating healthy

Reward Yourself 

As a caregiver, you deserve to reward yourself from time to time.  Your reward can be as simple as ordering your favorite food, buying an outfit you have wanted, or even relaxing in the bathtub listening to your favorite music.  Whatever you choose as a treat, be sure it is something making you feel happy. 

Make Sure You are Getting Rest

Getting the right amount of sleep for your body and mind to function correctly is extremely important, especially for caregivers with added stress.  If you find you have trouble sleeping even when you feel exhausted, try taking a hot shower or bath before bed.  There are many different natural remedies you can use to help with insomnia, such as listening to calming music and avoiding drinks with caffeine before bedtime.

Make Time for Daily Exercise

Exercising doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in a gym.  You can get a great workout in the privacy of your own home.  You can find some great online workout videos to get started, such as walking workouts or yoga.  It is also a good idea to get outside and exercise.  Try taking a walk in your neighborhood doing yoga in the backyard.

exercise

Don’t Say Yes When You Should Say No

Saying yes to everyone is not healthy.  If you say yes to everyone, you will overextend yourself, which can add stress and anxiety to your already busy life.   Ensure you prioritize the most important things, and if something doesn’t fit your schedule, say no.  Your friends and family will understand.

Talk to Friends or Family Everyday

It is essential to reach out and talk to someone besides the person you are caring for every day.  Talking provides an outlet for you to stay social or even vent when you are upset or stressed.  Staying social is a vital aspect of your health and wellbeing.

Spend Time with Friends and Family

Create a calendar to track all the things you need to do.  A calendar will allow you to see at a glance what you have coming up and will enable you to block out time to spend with family and friends.  Spending time with people other than your care recipient gives you time away to destress and relax.  This time away can be joyful and healing.  

family support for caregivers

Ask for Help When you Need it

Caring for your loved ones can be extremely rewarding, but over time you may become burned out.  When you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to get everything done on your calendar, ask for help.  Ask friends, family, or even community members to lend a helping hand.  It may feel awkward, but the fact is everyone needs help from time to time.  

Consider Joining a Support Group

The job of a caregiver can be isolating and lonely without support.  Consider joining a support group for caregivers in your community.  Joining a group can help you, sharing ideas for care, and make you feel not entirely alone.  There are different types of care groups possibly beneficial to join.  You can find support groups in your area by searching online or reaching out to a caring community for recommendations. 

support groups for caregivers

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s easy to beat yourself up for the things you don’t have time to do or even the things you feel you could have done better.  Take one day at a time and be sure to include self-care.  Caring for yourself is one of the best ways not to become overwhelmed or burned out.  

Know When Enough is Enough

As a caregiver, you want to do everything you can to provide the best possible care for your loved one.  However, at some point, your care recipient may need help you cannot offer.  It is essential to understand your limitations and what level of care you can provide.  When the level of care required exceeds what you can give, it may be necessary to choose a nursing home for your loved one.

nursing care

A Final Note

At Paths Elder Law, we understand how difficult it is to be a caregiver.  We have been working with seniors and their families for over 30 years, helping them plan for long-term care through Medicaid or VA and other benefits, estate planning, asset protection, and much more.

Our highly skilled and experienced staff is here to listen to your needs and create a plan to assist you with your journey.  We are here to help you and your family and to provide guidance for eldercare issues.  If you or a loved one requires assistance, contact Paths Elder Law to schedule a consultation.

Educational Seminar at Paths Law Firm

Paths Law Firm provides a Free Educational Elder Law Seminar every month to help you plan for your future.

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL

Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City

PARALEGAL

Sydney

Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.

 

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.

 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.

 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits

 

Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René

René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.

 

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary

Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.

 

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings nearly 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

 

Practice Areas

 

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education

 

BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City


Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri


Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate