According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is a state of “physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion”. As the population ages, more primary caregivers experience burnout when performing daily tasks for their loved ones.Although caregiving has its difficult moments, managing burnout is possible. Keep reading to learn more about ways you can cope with burnout as a caregiver.
A study by the American Psychological Association found that 23% of caregivers in elderly care had higher levels of stress hormones than non-caregivers. Additionally, a 2018 survey by Genworth reported that 41% of caregivers suffered from signs of depression, mood swings, and resentment towards the person they take care of. These symptoms could be signs of underlying problems-caregiver stress and burnout.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Coping with caregiver burnout starts with recognizing the signs. Below are some common signs of caregiver burnout to be on the lookout for.
- Overwhelming exhaustion and fatigue.
- Sleeping difficulties.
- Depression and mood swings.
- Social withdrawal from activities you once enjoyed.
- Feeling anxious all the time.
- Becoming angry, impatient, or irritable with the person you are taking care of.
- Inability to concentrate for long periods.
- Frequent headaches, stomach aches, and other mild illnesses.
- Change in eating habits.
- Feeling guilty about spending time on yourself instead of caregiving
- Denial of your loved one’s condition.
Caregiving can be overwhelming, with 31% of caregivers describing the experience as stressful. You may find a shift in attitude towards caregiving as you experience burnout.
Why Burnout Occurs
The first step in combating burnout is to understand why it happens to begin with. Most often, caregivers are so focused on their role, that they begin to ignore their own needs. It is important to maintain your self-care routine as a caregiver, which includes your emotional, physical, and mental health.
Caregiver burnout often occurs for other reasons too. Other reasons for burnout include unrealistic expectations, unreasonable demands, lack of control, and more. Enlisting help, such as in-home care services, may help improve the situation and give family caregivers a break.
Tips to Tackle Caregiver Burnout
1. Ask For Help
Too often, caregivers worry that asking for help will signify weakness or make them terrible caregivers. Despite what you may think, it’s the opposite that is true. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, this is why. You must be able to nurture and support your self-care to effectively provide care for someone else.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking friends or family to come over and help with specific chores or tasks can be helpful. Furthermore, adding in-home elderly care services can be beneficial to help ease your burden. Hiring help can help you with daily tasks such as grocery shopping and cleaning for your loved one.
2. Permission to Take a Break
It is good and healthy for you to get out of the house for a while. You may ask home care services or your friends to fill in for the moment you will be out. Pamper yourself with things that you love. Take a walk or go to a movie or dinner. These activities may help you relax and rejuvenate. When you return, you’ll feel ready to continue taking care of your loved one.
3. Take Care of Yourself
You should set up personal health goals that guide you in keeping fit. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and exercise regularly. Eating healthy food is part of the revitalizing program. Avoid skipping your doctor’s appointments, and be sure to talk to the physician about how you feel. Daily relaxation and meditation exercises may also help to calm you.
4. Tap Online Resources
Research shows that 80% of seniors suffer from one chronic disease, while 68% have two or more chronic conditions. Elderly care may seem challenging with these facts, but you are not alone. The US Eldercare Locator may connect you with local agencies on aging, which can offer resources in the community that deals with the challenges in senior care.
5. Join a Support Group
Finding other caregivers in your locality may offer the necessary validation and encouragement to move on. The group provides social support as you talk about your feelings, thus lifting your spirits. You may also get solutions to the challenges you face from the meetings.
Elderly care can be stressful, repetitive, and exhausting. Yet, you are not alone. There are strategies and support to make you a happier and better caregiver to your loved one. Enlisting the services of in-home care services is one of the ways to protect yourself from burnout. At Simply Compassion, we take burnout seriously. For both our staff and the families we serve, we emphasize the importance of recognizing the signs of burnout. We’re here to help support caregivers in every way possible.