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.

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Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Jeane Fracassa – a dedicated and accomplished professional who retired with an impressive 38-year service record from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Throughout her illustrious career, Jeane served as a Civian Supervisor in the Communications Unit, where she played a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and effective communication within the department.

Even in retirement, Jeane’s commitment to community service remains unwavering. Currently, she serves in various capacities within Community Relations at Paths Law Firm. Actively engaged in the Lee’s Summit and Overland Park communities, she proudly represents the law firm.

In all aspects of her life, Jeane Fracassa exemplifies the values of community, compassion, and family. Her commitment to making a difference and her love for exploration make her a remarkable individual, whose presence brightens the lives of those she encounters. Whether at work, with family, or during her travels, Jeane’s genuine care for others and her zest for life make her a truly remarkable and inspiring person.

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Laura is the Law Firm’s marketing assistant, supporting all marketing tasks, including managing calendars, researching upcoming events, updating marketing software and spreadsheets, and partnering with organizations to maintain relationships that benefit Paths Law Firm’s clients.  Laura is also the law firm’s professional photographer as she provides the professional photographs for the headshots, organizations, events, and networking.

Laura has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer.  She is also Adobe and Microsoft Certified.  She graduated from Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri with her Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Behavioral Psychology (minors in Social Work and Criminal Justice), and her Photographic Craftsman degree from Professional Photographers of America. She is certified as a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Certified Gentle Teacher, Medicaid Billing Certified, Crisis Intervention Counselor, and a Missouri Notary.

Laura has been married more than 26 years and has a daughter and a son. She has four brothers, a niece, and a nephew. Her four spoiled pets that love her attention. A lot of Laura’s off time is spent taking photos and she is an internationally published photographer. Laura owns a studio on the historic Independence Square. 

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Holly is our newest member of the administrative team. She is hardworking, has proven organizational skills and excellent communication skills. Holly has transitioned to the Estate Planning field from healthcare administration where she gained valuable knowledge that has contributed to her success here at Paths.

Holly enjoys spending time with loved ones, cheering for the Chiefs, and relaxing on the beach.

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Tressa has the important role of being a client’s initial point of contact as the law firm’s receptionist for all locations.  She also welcomes, assists, and cares for clients at the Lee’s Summit office. Additionally, she provides support in an administrative capacity for the attorneys, staff, and clients.  When you meet Tressa, the first quality many note is her readiness to be of assistance.

 

Tressa is a graduate of Park Hill High School with extensive administrative experience and executive level management. Tressa brings a stability and comfort to the law firm experience having worked in a variety of industries and having lived in six different major metropolitan cities.

 

Tressa has a daughter, two sons, and one grandchild.  In her free time, she enjoys her family and friends, loves being outdoors, gardening, bike riding and bird watching. Indoor hobbies include scrapbooking, painting cookies, and cheering on Chiefs football. She is a Kansas City native but enjoys traveling but is always happy to be back in her hometown.  

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton is an attorney and owner at Paths Law Firm. She has more than 17 years of experience advocating for those with special needs and navigating the state and federal agencies formed to help the disabled and elderly. At Paths Law Firm, Kathleen’s practice focuses on helping the elderly qualify for nursing home Medicaid, creating estate plans to protect beneficiaries, as well as a lot of time planning and forming businesses. Kathleen also enjoys helping clients form non-profit organizations and obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

 

After attending law school at the University of Oklahoma, Kathleen began representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Eventually her practice switched to federal court appeals and Kathleen spent years representing clients before the Eastern and Western District of Missouri, the District of Kansas, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kathleen has since focused her practice on estate planning and elder law after watching clients struggle to find ways to financially care for loved ones with special needs or aging parents.

 

Kathleen lives in the Northland with her husband and four children. She spends her free time attending soccer matches and ballet performances with her children and starting endless home improvement projects with her husband. 

Medicaid paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Medicaid Paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Tena is a Medicaid Paralegal.  She is very meticulous and organized.  She works closely with the attorneys, clients, and State representatives. 

Tena has an associate in applied science and has over 20 years of office management experience. She has two daughters and one grandson.

Tena enjoys spending time with her family.  She enjoys everything outdoors and her hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

Sydney is the law firm’s internal accountant and one of their experienced paralegals having been with Paths Law Firm since 2017. She is a primary point of contact for estate planning and business planning.

Sydney graduated with honors from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2022 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She is a Bloch Launchpad, Phi Theta Kappa, and National Honor Society alumni.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, baking and going on long walks. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

Christy has three years of experience in elder law working for seniors and their families. She is currently the Senior Administrative Assistant and organizes the day to day functions of the office and makes sure everything runs smoothly. When asked why she loved what she does, Christy said at Paths Law Firm, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite parts of the job are getting to know the clients and helping them get their questions answered. 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as the Senior Administrative Assistant. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to the relationship she had with her grandparents. 

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has been with her high school sweetheart for 25 years and they have two beautiful children together. Her daughter works in the medical industry, and her son currently attends High School and plays Baseball. When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her family and friends.

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 A. Fracassa

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

In her spare time, René is currently quite active managing multiple generations of her family, including parents and grandkids.  René has had great impact on the lives of many women teaching discipling and teaching and abundance of Bible Studies. Her former career in management and event planning trained her well to juggle all the activity.

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hilary plays a vital role in managing the Marketing Department at Paths Law Firm.  She is excellent at bringing new ideas and sharing valuable resources with the law firm and our community. Hilary has been with the law firm since the beginning, working in nearly every role which is invaluable in her marketing endeavors as she brings a unique set of skills into the Marketing Department.

Hilary is nearly complete in her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Marketing at Park University.  She has earned the honor of being listed in National Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Dean’s List. Hilary is always looking for new and innovative ways to share the law firm’s message.

While not working, Hilary spends her time with her family at their rural home. They tend to their chickens and honeybees and enjoy the solitude of country living.

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer is the Sr. Paralegal and Operations Manager at Paths Law Firm.  She oversees the firm’s probate department as well developing, implementing, and managing all the firm’s administrative processes having been with the law firm almost from the beginning.  She enjoys client contact as well as behind-the-scenes operations.

 

Jennifer began her legal career in 1990 as a legal secretary.  She has worked in small and medium sized firms, as well as court operations.  She has her Paralegal Certificate from Boston University, Law Office Management Certificate from University of Central Missouri, and she is a Master Financial Coach. 

 

Jennifer has two daughters, twin sons, and twin grandsons.  She spends as much time as she can with them.  She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and tending her yard. 

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

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 more than 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 an accountant and his first couple years practicing law was as a tax attorney. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty’s focus is helping protect seniors’ assets from taxes and long-term care costs, benefit qualification, and navigating more complex family scenarios in their estate planning.

Rusty has personally experienced the loss every parent fears, caring for a spouse suffering with cancer and the treatment, and working with aging parents through all stages of their lives.  He intimately understands the challenges faced by individuals and their caretakers when capacity or health declines, how to prepare for it, and the legal matters while in the midst of it.  He may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind.

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.

Rusty has multiple degrees and advanced study spanning his Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Administration – Accounting at Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), Masters of Arts in Accounting and in Intercultural Studies, as well as his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.

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