What You Should Know About Caregiver Burnout

caregiver burnoutOn any given day, an approximate 40 million Americans are providing unpaid care to elderly friends or family members.  This wonderful selfless act shows just how much they love the older people in their lives – but this also puts them at high risk of caregiver burnout.  Providing care, particularly long-term care, can be extremely stressful.  Worse, this stress can slowly build up over time, until the caregiver is near a “boiling point,” but without entirely realizing how stressed they are.

Anyone who provides care for an older person should maintain awareness of their own mental state, as well as their physical health.  If caregivers burn out, new problems will arise for both them and the person in their care.

This is what caregivers should know.

The Symptoms of Caregiver Stress and Burnout

True caregiver burnout usually takes a long time to develop.  Initially, the problem manifests in much the same way as other forms of stress.  These symptoms include:

  • Infographic - How to Avoid Caregiver BurnoutAnxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feelings of resentment
  • Increased smoking, drinking, or other drug use
  • Insomnia
  • Constant feelings of tiredness
  • Overreacting to minor problems
  • Cutting back, or being uninterested in, leisure activities

These are all warning signs that a caregiver is becoming stressed and should start seeking help or support in the caregiving.  If the warnings are ignored, and burnout occurs, the situation becomes significantly worse:

  • Chronic depression, particularly feelings of hopelessness
  • Constant illness or other health issues
  • Inability to relax, even given the opportunity
  • Feelings of anger and resentment towards the one being cared for
  • No feeling of satisfaction from caregiving
  • Constant feelings of exhaustion which one is unable to alleviate
  • Neglecting one’s own bodily needs, such as going without food 

The longer the situation persists, the more dire the situation becomes.

Seeking Relief from Caregiver Stress or Burnout

A healthy caregiver is a happy and effective caregiver!  Caregivers should always know when to seek out help and relief, to prevent themselves from falling into stress or burnout.  These include:

1. Have people to talk to.  A caregiver needs confidants they can relax with as a means of stress relief.

2. Celebrate the small victories.  Caregivers can avoid focusing on the negative by instead celebrating minor victories.

3. Be more accepting.  Caregivers can easily fall into a trap of asking “why” they are in the situation or becoming angry at their circumstances.  Such anger changes nothing; acceptance is a more positive approach.

4. Seek help.  The burdens on a caregiver tend to increase over time, which adds to their stress. Be willing to ask friends or other family members to pitch in!

Neighborly Home Care Is Here for You

We focus on providing compassionate personalized in-home care that maintains your loved ones’ lifestyle as much as possible. If caregiving is becoming a stressful burden, give us a call for a free consultation to determine if full or part time care could benefit you.

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I just wanted to tell you how grateful we are that Neighborly Home Care stepped in & took over taking care of my Dad when we really needed it, no questions asked. Our caregiver has become part of the family and we know we can depend on her being there every day & taking great care of my Dad. He misses her when she’s not there!
— Daughter of an NHC Client