By Jennifer McDougall
Burnout affects caregivers in the form of physical, emotional, and mental weariness. It may be followed by a shift in attitude, from caring and positive to uncaring and negative. Caregivers might burn out if they don’t get the support they need or try to do more than they are physically or financially capable of.
Many caregivers also feel terrible if they devote more time to themselves than their sick or aging loved ones. “Burned-out” caregivers may suffer tiredness, stress, worry, and despair. Caregivers are so preoccupied with caring for others that they ignore their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. The demands placed on a caregiver’s body, mind, and emotions can quickly become overpowering, resulting in tiredness, discouragement, and, eventually, burnout.
Among the other variables that might contribute to caregiver burnout are:
- Tightness in the chest caused by stress
- Sore muscles from tiredness or fatigue
- Restless mind
- Loss of appetite/skipping meals
- Weakened immune system
- Dehydration from forgetting to drink water throughout the day
- Withdraw from friends and family
- Feelings of irritability
- A sense of hopelessness or helplessness due to being overwhelmed
How Caregivers Can Prevent a Burnt Out From Happening
- Find someone you can talk to about your thoughts and problems, such as a friend, coworker, or neighbor.
- Set realistic objectives, recognize that you may require assistance with caring, and delegate certain chores to others.
- Support groups for caregivers or family members of individuals suffering from diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease may be offered by local organizations or houses of worship (in person or online). These organizations may also provide respite care to give caregivers a break from caring for the sick.
- Use the services of a respite care provider. Caregivers can take a break from their duties with respite care. This might be anything from a few hours of in-home assistance to a brief stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Be realistic about your loved one’s illness, especially if it’s a chronic illness like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Recognize that the patient may require nursing services or assisted living outside of the family home at some point.
- Don’t neglect yourself because you’re preoccupied with someone else. Even if it’s only an hour or two, set aside time for yourself; remember that self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. It is a must-have item for caretakers.
- Speak with an expert. Most therapists, social workers, and clergy members have been trained to help people with various physical and mental problems.
- Know your limitations and be truthful with yourself about your circumstances. Recognize and accept that you may experience caregiver burnout.
- Make an effort to educate oneself. You will be more effective in caring for the individual with the disease if you know more about the sickness.
- Create new coping mechanisms. Remember to have fun and focus on the good. To cope with everyday difficulties, use humor.
- Eat well and get plenty of exercise and sleep to stay healthy.
- Recognize and accept your emotions. It’s natural to have unpleasant sentiments about your duties or the person you’re caring for, such as irritation or rage. This does not imply that you are a horrible person or caretaker.
- Become a member of a caregiver support group. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with people going through the same thing can help you manage stress, find valuable tools, and feel less frustrated and isolated.
Where can I get help if I’m a caregiver who’s burned out?
Seek medical help if you are already experiencing stress or depression. Stress and depression are illnesses that may be treated. Consider turning to the following options for support with your caring if you want to avoid burnout:
- If your loved one is very ill, these groups can provide home health aides and nurses for short-term care. Some organizations offer short-term respite care.
- Adult daycare programs provide a safe environment for elders to interact, participate in various activities, and get medical attention and other services.
- Short-term respite stays are occasionally available at nursing homes or assisted living facilities to provide caregivers a break from their responsibilities.
- Professionals that specialize in analyzing current requirements and organizing care and services are known as private care aides.
- Support groups and other activities for carers can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others dealing with similar difficulties, get more knowledge, and identify further resources.
- Aging Services: For services (such as adult daycare, caregiver support groups, and respite care) in your region, contact your local Agency on Aging or your local chapter of the AARP.
- Look for local agencies or chapters of national organizations committed to aiding people with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke, in a phone directory or online. These organizations can give resources and information on various daycare topics, such as respite care and support groups.