Family caregivers deal with high levels of stress every day. Most are providing care for an aging parent, raising a family of their own and working outside the home at least-part time. Juggling so many responsibilities can leave caregivers feeling exhausted which could lead to caregiver burnout. But sometimes caregiver stress is more serious than you realize.
How can you tell if you are suffering from caregiver burnout?
It’s a dangerous condition that can lead to a health crisis for the caregiver. But many caregivers are often so overwhelmed with all they need to accomplish in a day that they fail to recognize the caregiver burnout symptoms.
Learn How to Recognize the Caregiver Burnout Signs
Do any of these caregiver burnout symptoms sound familiar?
- Deep fatigue beyond just being tired or sleepy
- Frequent headaches
- Insomnia or other sleep issues
- Stomach problems
- Relying on bad habits like smoking or drinking to manage stress
- Short-tempered or quick to anger
- Feeling overwhelmed with the simplest of tasks
- Back, neck and shoulder pain
- Feeling resentful of the people you care for
- Losing touch with friends and loved ones
- Dropping out of favorite groups and organizations
- Unintended weight gain or loss
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of exercise
Answering “Yes” to more than just a few of these caregiver burnout symptoms, might mean you are headed for trouble.
Finding Help and Support for the Caregiver
There are a few steps you can take to simplify your schedule and get back on track.
First, schedule a physical with your primary care physician. It’s the best way to evaluate your own health and well-being.
Next, take time to explore what options are available to assist you with some of the responsibilities you are juggling. A few ideas you might find helpful for those showing signs of caregiver burnout include:
- Talk with other family members to see who else can pitch in. It might be hard to ask, but protecting your own health is important.
- Consider using an adult day program or respite care at a senior living community for your loved one on a routine basis. They might enjoy themselves and it will give you a much-needed break in your day.
- Don’t overlook the support available through your local Agency on Aging. The staff can help you connect with resources in your community.
- Join an online caregiver support group. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a good source for connecting with your peers online.
- Try five minutes of quiet meditation each day. It’s a proven way to reduce stress.
Our final tip is to remind yourself of the important role you play in your family members’ lives. If you don’t take time out to care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for everyone else you love.If you're experiencing symptoms of burnout, a Caregiver Support Group could be the right resource for you. Learn more about Caregiver Support Groups in our resource section.