“Caregiver burnout” is a dreaded term amongst caregivers. Caregiver burnout refers to when a primary caregiver becomes unable to provide their loved one with the support that they need because their caregiver responsibilities have become too overwhelming. Caregiver burnout isn’t instantaneous, it takes time to develop. However, if a caregiver notices that they are finding it increasingly more difficult to manage their responsibilities, they should try to take certain steps to lessen the physical, mental and emotional burdens that they are feeling.
A Closer Look At Caregiver Burnout
Caring for a loved one who is in need can be a very gratifying and rewarding experience. However, the task does come with numerous stressors. Some common stressors include:
- An altered family dynamic.
- Disruption in the household.
- Financial strain and pressure.
- Increase in work and responsibilities.
With all of these different potential stressors affecting caregivers, it is no surprise that they are susceptible to feeling huge amounts of stress. Specifically, caregiver stress can be especially damaging because of its long-term nature. Caregiving may last for years or even decades. This type of long-term exposure to stress can negatively impact caregivers physically, mentally and emotionally. Should these burdens completely overwhelm the caregiver then, caregiver burnout may occur. When this unfortunate hypothetical scenario becomes a reality, caregivers will find it difficult to care for themselves, let alone another individual who is in need. In an effort to avoid caregiver burnout, it is important to be able to recognize its signs and symptoms. while also understanding what steps can be taken to help improve the situation.
Catching Caregiver Stress Early
It is important for caregivers and their support network to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress. Recognizing caregiver stress early can help to prevent it from becoming too serious. Here is a list of some of the common signs of caregiver stress:
- Increased anxiety, depression and irritability.
- Overall feeling of being “run down” and tired.
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Issues with focusing and concentrating.
- An increase in consumption of alcohol, smoking or eating.
- Emotional overreactions.
- New health problems or worsening health problems.
- Neglecting responsibilities.
Spotting Caregiver Burnout
The truth is, once a caregiver has completely burned out, it not healthy for either the caregiver or the person receiving care to continue on in the same fashion. Recognizing signs of caregiver burnout early may allow families and caregivers to make adjustments so that a complete burnout does not occur. Here are some common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout:
- A significant and noticeable increase in energy.
- Frequently catching colds or flu’s.
- Constant feeling of exhaustion.
- Neglecting your own needs due to exhaustion or apathy.
- Life has become completely focused on caregiving, but no feeling of satisfaction is being received.
- Difficulty relaxing even when opportunities present themselves.
- Increasing levels of impatience and irritability with the person you are providing care for.
- Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
Effectively Managing Caregiver Stress and Burnout
Although stress usually cannot be avoided when you’re a caregiver, there are some measures you can take to better fortify yourself from being negatively affected by caregiver stress and caregiver burnout. Keep reading for some useful ways to manage caregiver stress and burnout.
Learn To Ask For Help
Taking on all possible responsibilities without scheduling some form of regular break or assistance is a guaranteed way to burn out. There are many forms of assistance available to caregivers. Asking for help can be as simple as asking nearby friends and family to provide assistance with running a quick errand or, it may involved bringing in reliable home respite care services which truly allow you to get some distance from your caregiver responsibilities. Respite care services can be designed to fit a variety of different needs and budgets. To learn more about respite care, review our online information about Respite Care. Caring Hands Matter is a trusted provider of respite care services for caregivers and families of Northern Virginia and the greater Washington D.C./Metro areas.
Take Breaks When Able
For many caregivers, leisure time may appear to be impossible. But taking time for yourself should be treated like any other responsibility, because it is just as important. A home care professional can make it easier to find leisure time during the week. Home care professionals can be used to help shoulder some of the responsibility of caregivers which in turn, gives caregivers more free time. Caregivers can also look for smaller opportunities for leisure time. Although it isn’t a five day vacation in the Bahamas, here are some other ways to find time to refocus yourself:
- Set aside 30 minutes for exercise: 30 minutes of cardio vascular activity can help reduce stress and increase positive endorphins.
- Treat yourself: find small ways of pampering yourself. It may not seem like much but a relaxing bath or a back rub can go a long way.
- Find ways to laugh: Caregiving involves a lot of serious emotions. It is impossible to make life a little lighter when possible. Try reading a funny book or watching a funny movie as a change of pace.
- Step away from the home: when possible, get a change of scenery. Take opportunities to visit friends or be social when able so that you are not always cooped up in the same place.
- Stay healthy:for more information on this topic, review our blog, Staying Healthy As A Caregiver.
This recommendation can be difficult for some. When a caregiver is feeling the weight and burden of caregiving, it may cause them to focus on circumstances that they cannot change. Caregivers will feel better if they can navigate themselves away from the emotional traps of self-pity and resentment. With time, patience, and assistance from others, many caregivers are able to find the silver lining to caregiving and become more at peace with themselves and their situation.
Contact Caring Hands Matter for Support
Caring Hands Matter is here to help caregivers and their families navigate the unfamiliar terrain of caregiving. Our professional home care services can be tailored to fit the needs of any family. If you are looking for Fairfax home care assistance or. home care services in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.- contact us by calling or sending an online message today. Our home care experts will provide you with a thorough professional assessment so that you can make the best decision for you and your loved one.