If you have ever had to care for somebody else, then you know that it can be incredibly taxing on both your mental and physical state. Any person who becomes a permanent caregiver needs to make sure that they take steps to avoid burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a serious problem that can negatively impact both the caregiver and the person receiving care. Here, we want to discuss the signs of caregiver burnout, the consequences of caregiver burnout, as well as tips to prevent burnout from occurring in the first place.
Signs of Intensifying Stress and Burden
As a caregiver, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of burnout. These include:
- Feeling constantly worried or overwhelmed
- Always feeling fatigued
- Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
- Excessive weight gain or weight loss
- Becoming easily angry or irritated
- Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Feelings of sadness
- Frequent headaches, body pain, or other physical problems
- New or worsening alcohol or drug addictions, including prescription drug abuse
Consequences of Ignoring Caregiver Burnout
Multiple parties can be affected by caregiver burnout. First, a caregiver who experiences burnout can suffer significant emotional and psychological distress. If the mental health of a caregiver declines, this can affect every aspect of their life, including their physical well-being.
However, caregiver burnout can also lead to the abuse and neglect of the person being cared for. There is an immediate assumption that anyone accused of elder abuse is a bad person. The reality is that many caregivers only perpetuate abuse and neglect after long periods of caregiver burnout. While there is no justifying abuse or neglect of any kind, caregiver burnout can, and does, lead to the abuse of those being cared for.
Tips for Avoiding Burnout
According to information from the Mayo Clinic, some of the best ways to avoid caregiver burnout included the following:
- Accepting help. Most caregivers get into trouble when they refuse to accept help from anybody else. Unfortunately, the results of refusing help can be disastrous. Caregivers can ask friends and family members to help them, even if only for a short period of time during the week or the day.
- Focus on what you can provide. Caregivers need to realize that they do not have superpowers and that they can only provide the help that is within their skillset and means. Caregivers need to know that they are doing the best that they can and making the best decisions possible.
- Set realistic goals. Caregivers should break large tasks into smaller steps that they can do one at a time in order to feel less overwhelmed. Caregivers should also prioritize their to-do lists and establish a set daily routine that is manageable within their working hours.
- To get connected. It is crucial for caregivers to get connected to others in the caregiving community. In fact, there are many caregiver support groups, both online and in-person. The reality is that only other caregivers can fully understand what you are going through.
If you are a caregiver who recognizes you are burnt out, the time to ask for help is now. Please do not let your caregiver burnout rise to the level of neglect or abuse towards the person you are caring for. There is no shame in asking for help, and there is no shame in admitting you have made mistakes.