Caregiver burnout is common; about 40-70% of caregivers suffer from depression as a result. We will talk more in-depth about what caregiver burnout is and how you can prevent it.
What Is Caregiver Burnout and Symptoms
Caregiver burnout or Caregiver Stress Syndrome can is characterized by emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion from someone that is caring for their ill, injured, or disabled loved one. As a caregiver, you become overwhelmed by trying to meet the demands of the role, which has a negative effect on how you care for yourself and your loved one.
Some symptoms of Caregiver Burnout are:
- Neglecting your needs and health
- Denial of your loved one’s condition
- Anger toward your loved one
- Social withdrawal
- Picking up unhealthy habits such as drinking or smoking
- Changes in Appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
Reasons for Caregiver Burnout
Being a caregiver is hard work and your body and mind know it. But there’s no need to feel guilty if you feel this way. There are logical and valid reasons to feel burnt out.
Some reasons for Caregiver Burnout are:
Too tired to care for yourself. Caregiving is a demanding job in its own right. It takes so much time to care for someone else that you don’t have time to care for yourself. Unfortunately, it makes the situation worse for you since you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Difficulty separating their roles. It can be difficult to separate your role as a caregiver from a spouse, parent, sibling, or child.
Having unrealistic expectations. Sometimes caregivers believe that it’ll be easier than it is to care for someone else, especially if they’re sick or disabled. Especially for progressive diseases, as time goes on it doesn’t get easier but instead more difficult.
Lack of resources. If you’re caring for someone and can’t work due to being a caregiver or can’t afford the role, it can be difficult to manage. In addition, a lack of resources or skills can have an impact on how you care or manage care for your loved one.
Unrealistic demands. If you’re the primary caregiver, some outside influences may place a heavy burden on you or on what they expect you to do as the primary caregiver. You may also put unrealistic demands on yourself if you’re taking the leading role or your siblings, parents, or the patient themself can demand too much of your energy or time, making it difficult to get anything else done.
How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
It can be easy to become burnt out when you’re caring for someone else, whether it’s your parent, sibling, child, or friend. You often don’t have time to care for yourself, which can lead to resentment of your patient or loved one. But there are ways to prevent Caregiver Burnout. The key, however, is to prioritize your health because you can’t care for someone else if you’re sick, too.
Here are some tips to prevent Caregiver Burnout:
Ask for help. Ask for help from your siblings, co-parent, grandparents, friends, and whoever else you have in your circle. Take the pressure off yourself and ask for some help to manage some caretaking tasks.
Seek outside support for yourself. Friends and family can help you with caretaking tasks, but they can also help you by offering emotional support. Holding it all in can lead to depression, so ask your friends and family if they can lend an ear. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with them or you need additional support – seek therapy. Therapy may be able to offer you some tools you can use to cope.
Set Boundaries. Say no if a task is stressing you out or overwhelming you. Delegate tasks that you can’t do or don’t have time to do for your support team.
Join a Caregiver Support Group. Join a support group for caregivers through Facebook or other social media to get support and advice from people going through the same thing. You can also offer support and advice to your peers.
Live your life. Take regular breaks and attend social events to alleviate stress and regenerate energy. Take up a hobby that brings you joy and gets you out of the mindset and setting of your caregiving duties.
Take leave from work. Alleviate your stress by taking some time off work to focus on caring for your loved one. Focusing on one thing at a time can take the weight off your shoulders instead of juggling work and caretaking.
Use the resources available to you. Consider respite care for when you need a break for a few hours or a few weeks. You can also use in-home care with a health aide or take your loved one to an adult day center. The only downside is that you have to cover the cost that isn’t paid by your insurance.
Caretaking is a tough job, but it’s important to care for yourself just as much as the patient or loved one. So, use the resources available to you and ask for help wherever you can.
What is Compassion Fatigue? The difference between Caregiver Burnout and Compassion fatigue is that burnout happens over time and fatigue happens suddenly. It is the inability to feel empathy for the person you’re caring for. Some warning signs are anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and irritability.
Is it normal to feel burnout? Yes, burnout is very common. In the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute Survey, 40% of caregivers felt emotionally stressed, 20% felt financially burdened, and 20% physically exhausted.
How can you be diagnosed with caregiver burnout? Visit your doctor or mental health provider. There are also many self-assessments available online. There is no blood or imaging test that can determine a diagnosis – only questionnaires.