What is caregiver burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that sometimes happens when you’re taking care of someone else.
Over 41 million Americans offer unpaid care to a loved one.
Caregivers spend an average of 22.3 hours a week providing care.
Over 60% of caregivers report symptoms of burnout.
Emotional signs and symptoms
Emotional symptoms include:
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Feeling impatient and easily irritated
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from people and activities
Physical signs and symptoms
Physical symptoms include:
- Feeling exhausted
- Getting sick more often than usual
- Body aches
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Causes of caregiver burnout include:
- Too many responsibilities: Providing physical and emotional support, managing medications and appointments – it's a demanding and never-ending list.
- Work load: There's just not enough time to get everything done.
- Lack of control: Caregivers often feel they have lost control over their lives.
- Lack of time for yourself: Being constantly "on" and having little time for yourself can be particularly challenging.
- Lack of support: As you spend more time with your caregiving responsibilities, you may feel that you have lost your social circle, which can lead to feelings of isolation.
- Emotional demands: Worry, fear, sadness, and other difficult feelings can be very draining.
- Physical demands: Lack of sleep, lifting, making meals – all of these activities can wear you out.
- Multiple demands: You may feel pulled in all directions as you try to meet the needs of your loved one, other family members, employers, and other people in your life.
Delegating responsibilities can be difficult, but it's a necessary way to maintain your wellbeing. Ask family and friends for help with specific caregiving tasks so they know exactly how to help.
Your support system doesn't need to be a big group. It can be just a person you trust — a friend, family member, or a peer from a support group. The idea is that you have someone you can talk to about your feelings and frustrations.
Begin a self-care routine
Self-care is essential for caregivers to prevent burnout. Schedule a time each day to do something you really enjoy such as reading, crafts, or gardening. Even 15 minutes a day is good for your wellbeing.
If you are struggling with balancing your job and caregiving duties, talk to your employer. The FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to care of a seriously ill family member.
Take good care of your body
Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and find time to exercise. Don't forget to keep up with you own appointments, medications, and screenings.
If you're having trouble coping as a caregiver, you may need to seek professional help. Talk with your doctor about finding a counselor.
Reach out to us
When you need support, information, or just someone to listen, we are here for you:
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