Being a caregiver, in any capacity, whether it is professionally or for a loved one or family member, is one of the most stressful and overwhelming jobs a person can have. Between the physical demands and time commitment required to care for another person to the emotional dedication it takes to care for someone in need, there is so much that goes into being a caregiver. This is why caregiver burnout is a very real and very serious problem. This is why any person acting as a caregiver or who knows someone who is a caregiver should be on the lookout for the signs of caregiver burnout.
If you aren’t already familiar with caregiver burnout and what it entails, here are a few of the major signs to look for. These signs and signals include:
- Anxiety, depression and irritability
- Extreme fatigue
- Catching virtually every cold, virus or illness
- Neglecting their own needs
- Only being focused on caregiving and nothing else
- Giving up their own hobbies and interests to focus on caregiving
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Turning to food, drugs, smoking or alcohol to cope with stress
- Exhibiting feelings of resent towards others
- Overreacting to minor issues
- Not sleeping
- Struggling to relax
- Developing worsening health problems
Recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout is important, but it is only half the battle. It is also important that you know how to avoid caregiver burnout so you can continue to be the balanced, successful, caring provider that you know you can be. The best way for caregivers to avoid burnout is to start taking these approaches right away. However, many caregivers don’t realize they are succumbing to the stress of their job until they start to notice some of the signs of burnout.
Either way, here are a few things that every caregiver can do in order to make sure they are staying healthy, happy and stress-free and that they are avoiding caregiver burnout to the best of their ability.
- Embracing your choice to be a caregiver.
- Hiring respite care so you can take breaks weekly, or even go on a vacation.
- Focus on the things that you can control, instead of the things you can’t.
- Do one thing for yourself every day, even if it is just sitting in silence for 15 minutes.
- Celebrate the small victories. A day without an outburst, or your loved one sleeping through the night can be small enough victories to celebrate.
- Have a support group who understands what you are going through. There are countless caregiver support systems out there.
The more you know about caregiver stress and how to avoid it, the better off you will be as you tackle the difficult responsibility of providing care to a senior in need. While it can be easy to try to do too much as a caregiver, all care providers should remember that taking care of themselves should be a top priority so they can be the best version of themselves and the best caregiver possible.