The first step to being an awesome caregiver is caring for yourself.
Caregivers sometimes feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. They’re often providing support for someone else’s needs without recharging between tasks. This can lead to the feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed physically and emotionally—commonly known as burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a term that refers to the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion experienced by stressed caregivers. It can lead to symptoms like depression or anxiety which make it difficult for them to provide quality care for their loved ones. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent this from happening. Keep reading to find out how!
Signs of caregiver burnout
As a caregiver, you may focus on your loved one and overlook the toll that stress can take. It’s important to watch for signs of burnout.
- Trouble sleeping too little or too much
- Exhaustion that makes daily tasks difficult
- Feelings of dread, guilt, being overwhelmed, or anxiousness
- Easily agitated
- Physical symptoms—headaches, stomach aches, getting sick more often, changes in weight
- Withdrawing from people or hobbies you enjoy
- Feeling disconnected from reality or that caregiving is taking over your life
Still unsure if you are experiencing burnout? Try this caregiver assessment from the American Medical Association.
Causes of caregiver burnout
Burnout is often the result of neglecting physical, emotional, and mental needs, but the following issues can also contribute.
- Conflicting roles: When you become a caregiver, it can be difficult to separate your role as caregiver from other important relationships such as a parent, spouse, friend, or co-worker. You may find yourself neglecting other important relationships or letting them come second.
- Unrealistic expectations: Caregivers often expect their care to have a positive impact on their loved one’s health, but this is not always realistic—especially for patients suffering from progressive diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Caregivers are also often overburdened—either by the expectations they’ve placed on themselves or by family members who demand more of them than they can handle. If you have an elderly loved one who needs memory care in Albuquerque, our specialized CARE programs can help.
- Lack of control: Many caregivers find themselves frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively care for their loved one. It can also be overwhelming to feel like you had no choice in caregiving or that you have no privacy due to the time it takes to care for your loved one.
Preventing caregiver burnout
Caregiving is an important role that can come with the highest emotional and physical demands. It’s crucial to take care of yourself in order for you to be able to provide quality assistance when providing loved ones care. Now that you know what signs and causes to watch out for, here are some burnout prevention tips!
Have realistic expectations and goals
Caring for a loved one can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why it is important to set realistic expectations, create daily routines, break down large goals into small tasks, or even just say no when requests feel like too much! Allow yourself to take breaks from caregiving, and share responsibilities with other family members. A Place At Home offers in-home care services 24/7 or even a few hours a day that can help share the load.
Accept negative feelings as a normal part of caregiving—it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or that your loved one needs more care, but rather it is a result of your overwhelming role. It’s normal to feel guilty at times, but know that no one is a perfect caregiver. You’re doing your best with what information and knowledge you have—even when things don’t go exactly as planned!
Create a support network for yourself consisting of family, friends, and your community. Communicate with family and friends about your loved one’s health and situation. Join a support group online or in your community with others who face the same challenges as you. Find resources for caregivers in your area such as transportation, food delivery, or housekeeping. A Place At Home offers in-home care for seniors in Albuquerque that can help make life easier.
Take time to build positive relationships outside of caregiving, especially with those who offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Create a time each week to do this, even if it is just a phone call with a friend!
Don’t neglect your own health while caring for someone else. Set personal health goals and routines, and achieve them. Get plenty of sleep, drink water, exercise frequently, and eat a healthy diet. Remember to set your own doctor’s appointments and screenings. Talk to professionals—such as doctors, therapists, or social workers trained to counsel people in mental and emotional issues.
Caregiving can be rewarding yet overwhelming, but you are not alone. A Place At Home offers compassionate senior-focused care. Whether you need daily in-home companion care, assistance navigating with health care options, or help finding a senior living alternative, our professional caregivers in Albuquerque can help.
Schedule a free consultation today! You can expect an immediate response from our staff about any questions you may have.