We’ve all heard of parent burnout and corporate burnout, but have we stopped to consider that burnout can affect caregivers as well?
Caregiver burnout is very real. It’s a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. When you think about it, it’s surprising we don’t hear more about caregivers going through this. After pouring so much energy and love into others, it’s only natural for caregivers to feel just downright exhausted after an extended period of time.
What are some of the causes of caregiver burnout?
- Role confusion – If a caregiver is a friend or family member, people in the role of a caregiver may feel confused at times. It’s difficult to separate oneself from the role of a caregiver and that of a child, spouse, or friend.
- Unrealistic expectations – Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the patient. This may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease, such as diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
- Lack of control – Many family caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one’s care. Professional caregivers may find it difficult when they have restrictions placed on them by family when they want to help more than allowed or feel that their suggestions and hard work are not helping.
- Unreasonable demands – Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens and pressure upon themselves. Oftentimes this is because they see providing care as their exclusive responsibility.
What to look out for
If you think you notice a professional caregiver or caregiver in your family exhibiting signs of caregiver burnout, contact someone who can help them, like their trusted friend or manager. Some of these signs are:
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Feeling tired and run down
- Difficulty sleeping and eating
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Overreacting to minor nuisances
- New or worsening health problems
- Lack of enthusiasm for caregiving overall
- Social withdrawal
There is no shame in caregiver burnout. It simply means that caregivers are human too, and indicates that respite is required from another source, be it a family member, friend, or additional services from your caregiver agency. In the meantime, those facing caregiver burnout are ensuring that they are taking care of themselves in the same way they are taking care of those they care for. This means:
- Getting proper sleep and nutrition
- Carving out time to be with loved ones
- Asking for help from a family member, friend, or coworker
- Maintain your own doctor appointments
- Making time for favorite hobbies and activities
Lastly, there are many helpful support resources for those facing caregiver burnout. Here is a link from Care.com listing over 20 online and in-person support groups for caregivers. You are not alone!
To help others thrive, you must be of good health. Here’s to your health.