A caregiver is defined as an individual that assists others who need a little more care. They might be family, respite, home, or primary caregivers. Undeniably, being responsible for the care of someone who counts on you is no small matter. Whether you’re providing support to a resident in an assisted living community or caring for an elderly family member, we understand how challenging it can be.
Caregiver Burnout and How to Identify It
It’s a challenging job to be a caregiver. Some individuals choose careers in professional caregiving, but others feel unprepared to look after their parents or loved ones. Regardless of the path, burnout doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Caregivers can find themselves exhausted from the emotional and physical pressures of their careers or responsibilities and are most likely to suffer from mental fatigue. Mental health covers our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and caregiver burnout can result from this continuous exhaustion.
However, some individuals believe that burnout is a natural part of caring for others. What resources are available to assist in light of this?
Signs Something Isn’t Quite Right
- Getting too little or too much sleep
- Lack of energy
- Physical exhaustion
- Irritability, feeling angry often
- Negative emotions
- Feeling as though caregiving is controlling your life
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Getting sick more often
- Feeling blue, hopeless, or helpless
- Feeling resentment
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and support systems
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person in your care
You Are Not Alone
Caregiving in the United States 2020 reported a decline in the health of caregivers, and statistics proving:
- There are 53 million unpaid caregivers in the United States
- 61% work outside the home
- 39% identify as male
- 61% identify as female
- 24% provide care for more than one person
- 26% care for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- 26% have difficulty coordinating care
- 45% have experienced at least one financial impact
These figures confirm what caregivers are facing across the country. It is crucial to support caregivers as the need for their assistance grows with the aging population. This vital work will increase, as should the support.
Take Time for Yourself
It may seem strange if you’re not used to it, but start by looking after your needs first. As a caregiver, you keep everything together and are the heart and soul of the care arrangement. If you’re not caring for yourself, you will eventually become exhausted. Make caring for yourself a priority and follow through. There is nothing you can offer if you have nothing left to give. You are important, your well-being is vital, and what you need and require is essential.
Set Boundaries to Limit Caregiver Burnout
In all facets of life, including caregiving, boundaries are beneficial. Since splitting responsibilities with siblings, do you find yourself providing the majority of care for your aging parents? Or maybe you joined a weekly bowling league, and now every Friday is unavailable. It’s essential to communicate effectively, define care needs, and work together to create a schedule that works for everyone involved.
Given the figures above, the 53 million caregivers need more support than ever before, not to mention the millions of professionally employed caregivers. Support groups are beneficial because they provide these selfless individuals with a much-needed social outlet and an opportunity to connect with others going through similar situations. Here are a few resources to explore:
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Caregiver Action Network
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Administration for Community Living
- Working Daughter
In addition, the ETE social networking app is a tremendous resource for ALL caregivers. Our beta testing program is currently available, and you can join us and be a part of something special.
Caregiver Burnout Due to a Lack of Communication
The importance of communication cannot be overstated. There could be a problem brewing beneath the surface, and if it isn’t addressed, it could bubble over. It’s beneficial to discuss what’s working and what could be improved. Communication also aids in the establishment of boundaries. You may be feeling unappreciated while your loved one is feeling lonely. A lack of two-way communication will prevent each person from knowing what they need to do to help solve any problems that may arise.
Be Open to Help and Consider Respite Care
Nobody can do it all, nor should they have to. The purpose of respite care is to provide short-term relief to primary caregivers. There is no time restriction. Caregiving can be as short as an afternoon or as long as several weeks.
Additionally, if a friend offers to care for your loved one in the morning and prepare breakfast, take advantage of the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep. When a trusted individual offers to step in and help, accept the offer.
You may be unaware of resources available in your community. If you’re already a member of a support group, connect with those individuals and learn about the resources available to you. Lean on others who have been there; they understand what you’re going through and are willing to help. Furthermore, the Family Caregiving Alliance provides a comprehensive resource that lists services, organizations, and assistance searchable by state. You could potentially avoid burnout later by putting in a little extra effort today.
Despite Caregiver Burnout, Keep Your Social Commitments
The need for social interaction is undeniable in humans. Consider meeting up with a good friend for lunch after a well-earned break from work. Go ahead and pick up the phone or make a promise to call someone; choose a convenient day and time for both of you and stick to it. Prioritize a weekly outing or phone call. This time is essential for you.
Good Sleep Matters
Our quest to achieve the ultimate sleep balance may lead us to feel like we’re not getting enough or too much sleep. The restful retreat of your bedroom is at your fingertips. If the sun wakes you up before you’re ready, invest in blackout curtains. Comfortable temperatures, dim lighting, and white noise create an ambiance that encourages you to relax and unwind.
If you’re tossing and turning, remind yourself that even if you’re not sleeping, you’re still resting and relaxing. If sleep is eluding you, go ahead and get up and do something that will nourish you until you can finally get some sleep. Sleep deprivation makes everything more difficult, so try not to become frustrated with yourself if you have difficulties sleeping.
As a result of physical strain or stress, you will never realize how tight your muscles are if you have never experienced a massage. If you’ve had a massage, you know exactly what you’re missing!
Massage is considered a component of holistic treatment. In a number of medical conditions and situations, it is increasingly used in conjunction with standard treatment. Massage therapy can help by reducing muscle tension, pain, and discomfort. In addition to lowering blood pressure and heart rate, it can improve immunity, circulation, and energy levels.
Discuss Caregiver Burnout With Your Doctor
It’s important to take time to attend regular visits. However, if anything doesn’t feel right before your scheduled appointment, call your doctor and explain that you’ve noticed changes in your physical or mental health that you’d like to discuss. Perhaps you’ve taken on extra tasks and feel overwhelmed, or you’re not getting enough sleep. Your doctor can help you with making well-informed health decisions. Now is the moment to dive deep and look after yourself in every possible way.
Caring for Those Who Care For Others
Caregiver burnout is a serious issue. Additionally, it can sneak up on us and catch us off guard. Support and resources are available to help prevent and alleviate symptoms.
Caregiving requires a considerable amount of time, energy, patience, and compassion. Significantly, the mental, emotional, and physical strain simply cannot be ignored. ETE is grateful for the work you do to keep your clients and loved ones happy and healthy. If you’re experiencing caregiver burnout and are interested in learning more about our carefully tailored approaches to care, we are here to answer your questions and support you.