Did you know that family caregivers are at risk for higher emotional, mental, and physical health issues? While it can be very rewarding, family caregiving can create added stress around households, finances and emotions. This added stress can lead to caregiver “burnout.” But how do you know if YOU are suffering from it?
Here are 5 key signs.
Loss of interest in activities, friends and loved ones is often one of the first signs of burnout. The added stress of caregiving leaves little left in the “gas tank” for things that may have held interest before.
Frequent irritability, gloom and a nagging feeling that your life is out of control often comes when you are overcommitted, especially when your commitment is something of this magnitude. Caregiving can sometimes mean taking on overwhelming medical decisions and financial responsibility.
Caregiver burnout can often result in emotional or physical exhaustion that leads to illness. The constant worry about loved ones and neglect for one’s own physical health can take its toll. If you’ve been feeling fatigued, sick, or just seem “under the weather” more than usual, you may need to take a break.
When someone experiences a significant amount of added caregiving responsibility, anxiety and stress can soon follow. Increased insomnia and/or changes in appetite and weight — losing or gaining — are a couple of the more obvious symptoms of stress.
Overriding guilt about your quality of caregiving can lead to depression. Feeling like you have to “do it all” can be a heavy load to carry. Allowing yourself to let go of some of the responsibility can be liberating — and lift the spirits.
What you can do about caregiver burnout?
People won’t know what you need or how you’re feeling. Be honest about what you’re dealing with. Make suggestions to those who can help—especially other family members. You can’t be expected to take care of everything.
Divvy up the responsibility
Get more family members involved. Dividing up tasks alleviates the burden from resting on one person. Easy “buckets” are medical responsibilities, finances and bills and groceries and errands.
Arrange status calls
Pick a time with co-caregivers to assess how things are going (daily, weekly or as often as you need). If you’re handling it alone, ask a friend to be your check-in person to at least give you someone to talk through things with.
Please accept help when it’s offered. Friends and neighbors find helping you rewarding. (Sometimes the caregiver needs a little care-giving.) They can help with small tasks like picking up groceries or driving your loved one to an appointment.
Hand over some control
Don’t feel like you have to do everything. You need to take care of YOU, too. It’s OK to say “I can’t do it all.”
Treat Yourself to Life-Changing Respite Care
Respite care from a reputable home care service provider allows YOU to spend more quality time with other loved ones like your own family and friends. It enables you to “re-charge” your own batteries. And most of all, it allows you to have more quality time with the loved one you’ve been caring for. Having someone else take over the more burdensome responsibilities for a short time, or permanently, will alleviate your stress and improve your overall health.