Being responsible for an aging loved on is difficult. Though being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, it can also be extremely demanding and exhausting. Caregiver burnout happens as a result of immense stress left unchecked, and eventually leads to a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion.
The emphasis on caregiving so often is the health and well-being of the individual care, so much so that the caregiver may neglect their own health and wellness. Other life responsibilities may be set aside in efforts to keep up with caregiving.
Being in a burnt-out state can cause both parties to suffer. That’s why taking care of yourself should be a priority and responsibility. By recognizing caregiver burnout, you can protect yourself and thereby provide the best care possible to an aging adult.
Signs of caregiver burnout
The signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout may look very similar to those of stress and depression. They can include:
- Loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed.
- Lack of energy.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Having trouble sleeping, drastic weight changes, or other unexplained health problems.
- Using substances to cope with or suppress painful feelings.
- Having problems in other areas of your life, such as career or relationships.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Decreasing amount of leisure activities.
- Loss of satisfaction that caregiving once brought you.
Ways to prevent caregiver burnout
- Self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s why practicing self-care is possibly the most important part of preventing caregiver burnout. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Don’t skip your doctor’s appointments. Daily relaxation and meditation practice can also be beneficial. Taking much needed alone time or a break is also part of self-care.
- Ask for help. Look into respite care so you can take a well-deserved break, whether it be family members, volunteers, or paid help. If you need more professional guidance, enlisting the help of a therapist or joining a support group can be very beneficial for caregivers.
- Set boundaries. All relationships need healthy boundaries. Know your limits and dictate when you need to take a step back. When you start feeling like you are physically, mentally, and emotionally at capacity, address the issue and be honest with yourself.
- Practice acceptance. Be willing to relinquish some control and focus only on what you can control. When faced with the unfairness of a loved one’s illness or the burden of caregiving, there’s often a tendency to self-victimize and search for someone or something to blame. Practice acceptance of the situation and stay focused on what you can do rather than pushing back on stressful situations. Acceptance will help immensely with your mental and emotional health.
- Maintain personal relationships. Maintaining relationships with friends and family is something that can get lost in the shuffle of caregiving. However, these relationships will help sustain you and keep you positive. Invite a friend over for coffee, go out for lunch, or take the day off and go to the spa for some much-needed self-care.
We value our caregivers at Happier at Home. Whether your role is a caregiver for a company or caregiver for a family member, it’s important to be aware of the implications that can arise when taking on so much responsibility. Whether you need respite care for your loved one, or are looking for a full-time caregiver, Happier at Home has consistent caregivers to help fit your needs and schedules.