More than 40 million adults in North America are taking care of an elderly, chronically ill, or disabled family member. You might be one of them. Many people care for one person over 65, but 22 percent help two people and 7 percent look after three or more. Some 32 percent of caregivers say that the experience is stressful. If you are reading this blog, you are probably a caregiver and on your way to becoming a caregiver who is tired all the time if you do not take steps in preventing caregiver burnout. You have to take care of YOU. If you’re stressed out, you might be suffering from “unrelieved stress.” Psychologists don’t take it lightly, and you shouldn’t either. Most caregivers start to show signs of burnout long before they realize it. When a loved one is sick, they may also have to deal with financial pressures, changes in family dynamics, and general disruption in their family life. It’s a recipe for caregiver burnout, which could hurt anyone’s ability to provide good care and even put the caregiver’s own health at risk, so it’s not good. If you know what caregiver burnout is, you can make sure you don’t burn the candle at both ends.
10 Signs of Caregiver Burnout
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Sleep problems
- Changes in eating habits; weight loss or gain
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Neglecting your own physical and emotional needs
- Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life
- Anxiety about the future
- Depression or mood swings
- Difficulty coping with everyday things
Tips to Help You
- Having a need for assistance does not imply that you are an ineffective caregiver. This simply means that you are incapable of completing the task on your own (no one can do it alone).
- Allow for rest periods. Take a walk outside. Make plans to see your buddies. Indulge in a massage to pamper yourself. Bathe in a warm bath for an extended period of time.
- Consider your own health. Avoid skipping your personal physician appointments due to a lack of time. Engage in physical activity, consume a balanced diet, and obtain sufficient sleep.
- Increase your wake-up time by 15 minutes and use the time for yourself. Take a seat and indulge in your coffee or tea. Keep a journal in which you can express your emotions and problems. Concentrate on your breathing, pray for guidance, and stretch… Carry forth your desires.
- Create a list of all of your everyday activities and responsibilities. Examine whether any of them are delegable. Perhaps your husband is capable of preparing dinner twice a week or twice a month. Perhaps a friend or family member can assist with errands or laundry. Individuals frequently offer assistance—accept their offer!
- Inquire about your employer’s family-leave benefits. By providing you with additional hours in the day, you can alleviate a great deal of stress.
- Ask your hospice provider about local support groups if your loved one is getting hospice care. Communicating with others who are experiencing similar circumstances is extremely beneficial, as is opening up and sharing your frustrations—and joys!
- Consider hospice respite care for your loved one if the possibility for a quick break presents itself. Your hospice program should offer short-term inpatient care for your loved one (less than 24 hours and no more than five days and nights) to relieve family members or other caregivers.
There is assistance available, shortcuts available, and tactics available for reordering your priorities in order to make you a happier person and a better caretaker. It helps if you have someone to lean on, there are shortcuts, and there are ways to reorganize your priorities so you can be a better person and a better caregiver.
The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect those of iWound, its affiliates, or partnered companies.
Further Reading and References
The National Alliance for Caregivers (NAC)
Established in 1996, NAC is dedicated to improving the quality of life for friend and family caregivers and those in their care, by advancing research, advocacy, and innovation.
NAC Support Program
Get tips and information to help you care for your loved one with special medical needs, including programs for family members of veterans and people with disabilities to get paid to provide care.