Burnout is a term we most often associate with our careers and the stress that comes from trying to balance our home and work lives. But the demands of caring for an elderly parent can leave caregivers feeling just as exhausted and depleted.
For caregivers, burnout is not just a physical state of being tired. It’s also emotional and mental exhaustion caused by the ongoing stress of caregiving. It is an all too common experience among family caregivers who are responsible for providing physical and emotional support to aging or disabled loved ones. Burnout can lead to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and even illness in the caregiver.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout symptoms can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Some of the most common signs include:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion: A feeling of being constantly tired, even after a good night’s sleep. Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and helpless.
- Loss of interest in activities: Caregivers may lose interest in hobbies, social activities, and other things that used to bring them pleasure.
- Stress-related illnesses: Caregivers may develop physical and emotional symptoms such as high blood pressure, headaches, back pain, and depression.
- Isolation: Caregivers may withdraw from friends and family and feel isolated from the outside world.
- Irritability: Caregivers may become easily frustrated, anxious, and irritable.
- A negative change in self-care habits: Caregivers may neglect their own health and well-being, such as not eating properly, getting enough sleep, or exercising.
This quiz is a helpful resource to help caregivers assess their risk level of experiencing family caregiver burnout.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout
If you recognize these signs in yourself, it’s essential to take action to prevent further burnout. Here are some practical steps you can take to help prevent caregiver burnout:
- Take a break: Caregiving can be emotionally and physically exhausting. It’s important to take a break from caregiving responsibilities. Even a short break can help refresh your mind and body.
- Get support: Reach out to family and friends, join a support group, or seek professional counseling.
- Take care of yourself: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting regular exercise.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Reach out to family and friends, and ask for assistance.
- Seek out community resources: Take advantage of local resources, such as adult daycare centers, transportation services, and home health care.
Get the Support You Need
Caring for an aging parent or sick spouse is one of the most joyful and fulfilling things you will do. But it is also a challenging experience. Caregiver fatigue is a real concern for family caregivers, but it is preventable. By recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to take care of yourself, you can prevent burnout and continue to provide the best possible care for your loved one.
Remember, if you’re not okay, no one is going to be okay. If you are looking for ways to better care for yourself and your loved one, check out our resource library. To learn more about how the Avanlee app can make caregiving easier, click here.