When your parents or other loved ones begin to age, you might find yourself trying to navigate a new caregiving role. No matter if you live nearby to your aging loved one or if you are trying to coordinate doctor appointments from states away, you might begin to feel overwhelmed by new caregiving responsibilities. Without the right support in place, you can quickly feel the serious health complications that come along with caregiver burnout.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
You might have heard of caregiver burnout before, or heard other terms like “caregiver fatigue” or “caregiver exhaustion” thrown around but never really understood it. You may have even thought that caregiver burnout was not an actual thing, but instead just a way to describe the stress that goes along with any type of caregiving.
However, caregiver burnout is a very real phenomenon that describes a set of physical and mental health symptoms that show up when a caregiver is stressed out, burnt out, and doesn’t have the support or rest they need.
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
If you only tackle a few tasks for your aging loved one a month or if you are living miles away, you might think that caregiver burnout won’t happen to you. But the truth is that anyone, in any type of caregiving role, is susceptible to the effects of caregiver burnout.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout can include:
- Insomnia, sleeping too much, or any other sleep disruptions
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Feeling more grouchy or irritable than usual
- Having a “short fuse”
- Decreased immune system: getting sick more often and for longer periods of time
- New headaches or other body pains
- Increased gastrointestinal issues, including heartburn
- Weight gain, loss, or any new fluctuation
- New diagnosis of high blood pressure or heart disease
How to Combat Caregiver Burnout
If you find yourself in a caregiving role, it is better to prevent caregiver burnout than to try to handle it once it arrives. You can prevent feelings of stress and burnout by:
- Scheduling respite, or time away, from your role regularly and consistently
- Asking for help from other family members and friends with specific tasks to take them off your plate
- Finding a support group, whether online or in person, where you can share your experience with other caregivers and get more information about local resources
- Working with a home care agency that can offer assistance with tasks ranging from transportation to personal care assistance to companionship services
- Speaking with your physician about your caregiver role and any new signs of burnout you might be noticing.
- Finding a local counselor or therapist you can work with regularly to process your feelings and coping skills related to your caregiving role
Caregiving is rewarding, but it is also exhausting and frustrating. If you are noticing that you are feeling more stressed out than usual or are more ill than usual, caregiver burnout has likely already arrived at your doorstep. Take action now to prevent it from getting worse. After all, you cannot care for your loved one when you are not operating at your best.
The team at CaringGivers would be honored to come alongside you and provide you with the support you need. Call us today to set up a consultation.