Family Caregiver Burnout

Do you have caregiver burnout? Ask yourself, are you:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and other loved ones?
  • Feeling blue?
  • Experiencing changes in sleeping patterns?
  • Feeling like you want to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for?
  • Irritable?
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy?
  • Seeing changes in your appetite, weight or both?
  • Getting sick more often?
  • Emotionally or physically exhausted?

If you experience two or more of these symptoms, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Burnout can occur when home care providers don't get the help they need or if they try to do more than they are able to do.

Causes of Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual health. The demands on a caregiver's body, mind, and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness - and ultimately, burnout. Other factors that can lead to caregiver burnout include:

Role Confusion: It can be difficult for a person to separate his or her role as a caregiver from their role as a spouse, employee, child, friend, etc.

Unrealistic Expectations: Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the patient. In some cases, this may be unrealistic for patients suffering from a progressive disease, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

Lack of Control: Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of resources and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one's care.

Unreasonable Demands: Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens upon themselves because they often think that providing care is their exclusive responsibility when it shouldn't be.

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

Find someone you trust, such as a friend, co-worker or neighbor, to talk about your feelings and frustrations.

Set realistic goals and accept that you may need help with caregiving. Turn to others for help with some tasks.

Be realistic about your loved one's disease, especially if it is a progressive disease like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

Don't forget about yourself! Set aside time for yourself, even if it's just an hour or two. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity.

For more information on caregiver burnout and strategies for coping with it, you may wish to visit these helpful sites:

Caregiver Resources
Caregivers - A Helpful Guide


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