Caregiver Burnout or Caregiver Stress is a common and 100% normal reaction to the long-term duty of caregiving. It can come from a variety of different stresses that can arise from your responsibility.
Stress caused by a lack of control within in the caregiving relationship or situation. The stress can come from simply becoming overwhelmed by your role day after day. Or, you pay so much attention to the needs and care for your loved one that you have neglected to care for yourself properly. In any of these instances it is essential for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one to notice the signs of caregiver burnout before it becomes too late.
If you let any of its symptoms get too far you can run the risk of damaging your health. If you damage your own health, you are not capable of providing the best care that your loved one deserves.
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout or Caregiver Stress
Feeling tired or run down
A growing sense of resentment, you feel like you're always the go-to caregiver
Increasing the amount you eat, drink, or smoke
Trouble sleeping or staying asleep
Overreacting to small issues, snapping at everyone
Not taking the time to exercise
New/developing health issues, you catch every illness going around
Steps to Overcome Caregiver Burnout
1. Ask for Help
This can be as easy as giving a definite “yes” when a relative or friend offers to help. Relinquish control quickly and easily by have a list of ways that they can help. Also importantly for the long-term speak-up.
Do not let your relatives or friends believe that you have it fully under control 100% of the time. Reach out to them, explain the situation, how you're feeling, and organize additional backups or divide up a few chores.
2. Take a Break
It is essential to get out of the house and take a break. This can involve a weekly trip out to pamper and treat yourself to a special meal or activity. Be sure to also visit with your friends and share your current experience and how you feel.
Taking a step back and talking through some of your feelings can make a huge impact. If you can’t make it out of the house regularly for a mani/pedi, try and set aside 30 minutes to practice your favorite hobby, read, or walk around the block.
Avoid becoming overcome with the wasteful feeling of resentment and dwelling on the things you cannot control. Instead of focusing on whose fault it is or on your situation, see how caregiving can help you grow as a person.
Pay close attention to the different parts of your life that you can control and take command. Also, find the hidden benefits of the caregiving journey, such as becoming a more patient or responsible person.
4. Join a Caregiver Support Group
Support Groups are a fantastic way to find others facing your similar situation. They offer a venue to share your feelings in a sympathetic and understanding environment.
There are many different types of Caregiver Support Groups available online or in person. Online groups have the added convenience of not having to leave the home. In addition, if your loved one suffers from a rare condition there may not be many other caregivers in a similar situation nearby. But when attending online groups, definitely do not avoid in-person meetings.
In person meetings offer a chance to get out of the house and potentially make some friends. Also, they may offer help in finding local assistance programs and services for caregivers.
There are a variety of online resources that offer local search to find caregiver services and support groups near you:
Search by condition and zip code to find it near you.
Search by state to locate groups meeting in your area. These groups offer practical information, solutions, and ways of coping with Alzheimer’s challenges.
Caring.com offers over 60 different types of online support groups.
AgingCare.com: Caregiver Forum
AgingCare.com’s forum lets you reach out to other caregivers to answer your questions, receive practical guidance, and find one-on-one support. Their group covers over 15 different categories
For additional ways to help yourself or the caregiver in your life check out LiveOakMed.com's curated collection of high-quality, innovative, caregiving aids.