The number of Americans providing unpaid care increased from 43.5 million in 2015 to 53 million in 2020, with 21% of family caregivers reporting their health is poor to fair. Caregivers with poor health can have reduced immune health, poor physical condition, a higher risk of anxiety and depression, and a higher chance of taking psychoactive medications.
Caregiver burnout is very real and highly exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s okay to ask for help and take some time for yourself! Continue reading to learn how to notice burnout, why it happens, and what you can do to prevent or manage it.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiving is a demanding, often 24/7 role; caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Burnout happens when a caregiver doesn’t get the help they need or if they try to do more than they are able, physically and financially.
Symptoms of caregiver bburnout include:
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Poor eating habits
- Feeling irritable
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Withdrawal from friends and family
What Can Lead to Caregiver Burnout?
People need clarification when thrust into the caregiving role. It can be difficult for people to separate their roles as caregivers from their roles as spouses, children, friends, and other close relationships.
Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of their loved ones. There is also a level of perfectionism that caregivers experience to ensure that everything is “perfect” and hold unreasonably high standards for themselves. These expectations may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s, and having unreasonable expectations can damage a caregiver’s mental and emotional health.
Having professionals like nursing staff or physical therapists in the home and other family and friends visiting makes it hard to have privacy and get some time to yourself. Sometimes, the only time caregivers may only get alone time after putting their loved one to bed and before they go to bed themselves.
We all hate seeing your loved one develop new health concerns or worsen their current condition. Worsening conditions can make managing and taking care of their needs more difficult.
Lack of control
Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to manage, plan, and organize their loved one’s care.
How to Prevent Burnout
- Let others step in. A trusted neighbor, sibling, or spouse can help you, even if it’s only for a few hours. It will give you time to take care of yourself and get a break.
- Take breaks! Make sure to take some breaks throughout the day to give yourself a chance to breathe. Even a few minutes to breathe can make a big difference, but you can also go for a short walk or enjoy coffee outside.
- Practice acceptance. Caregivers can be perfectionists and hold themselves to unreasonably high standards. As a caregiver, you must practice accepting that things won’t always work out and won’t be perfect.
- Set boundaries. Caregiving does not mean giving up your entire being and sacrificing your life or values. Set boundaries and expectations to preserve your physical and mental well-being.
- Try coping tools. Some of the most effective tools can be used daily and only take minutes to make a big difference in your ability to manage. Examples of coping mechanisms include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Positive self-talk
- Slowing down
- Take a break
- Seeking outside help. While in-home care is convenient, especially when your loved one isn’t mobile, it can be costly. Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers offers elderly care programs to almost any senior, no matter their medical conditions, to receive the care they need. Additional help can give you a much-needed break during the day while knowing your loved one is in the good hands of a caring professional.
Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can become overwhelming quickly. Be sure to take some time and follow the tips we provided above. Nevada Adult Day Healthcare offers many services and programs that can help you and your loved one live a healthier and happier life, giving you a chance to live your own life! Please, don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about the programs and services we can provide to you.