Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual health. Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging since it is a long-term challenge. Caregiving can be overwhelming at times and if this stress is left unchecked it can take a toll on a person’s health, relationships and state of mind. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout often occurs when caregivers don’t get the help they need or if they try to do more than they are able.
What Are the Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout?
Caregivers who are burned out may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression, with the following included:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Feeling irritable, hopeless and helpless
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Getting sick more often
- Feelings of wanting to hurt oneself
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unable to relax
What Causes Caregiver Burnout?
Some caregivers place unreasonable demands on themselves as they are unable to accept help from others, seeing caregiving as their exclusive responsibility. Caregivers are too busy providing care that they often neglect their own health. Many people are confused when thrust into the role of a caregiver, unable to separate it from previous roles such as spouse, child, etc. Caregivers who have unrealistic expectations get frustrated more easily. There may be a sense of lack of control over financial resources, planning and management of their loved one’s care. Many caregivers cannot recognize when they are suffering from burnout until it is too late.
Here are some caregiver survival tips:
- Share your feelings with others
- Set realistic goals
- Plan ahead
- Take one day at a time
- Ask for and accept help
- Learn about available resources
- Develop contingency plans
- Make your health a priority
- Get enough rest and eat properly
- Make time for leisure
- Be good to yourself