Being a caregiver can be an exhausting and difficult task. It’s important to recognize caregiver burnout and find healthy ways to cope.
Understanding caregiver burnout symptoms and coping mechanisms can help make caregiving more enjoyable and fulfilling.
About 1 in 3 adults serves as an informal caregiver to another adult, like an aging parent or disabled relative. Although many find the opportunity to care for a loved one to be a privilege, it can also be demanding. Here is how to cope effectively.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion that may result in a change of attitude. The exhaustion can be physical, emotional, and/or mental. Common signs of burnout include:
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Feeling fatigued
- Sense of hopelessness, despair
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Neglecting one’s own needs
- Feeling like one’s life revolves around caregiving
- Growing impatient or irritable with loved ones
- Worrying excessively about the future
- Mood swings or depression
- Challenges coping with everyday tasks or problems
- Headaches, stomach aches, and other physical signs of stress
- Getting sick easily
Tips for Coping with Caregiver Burnout
Burnout doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. Use these tips to prevent and cope with caregiver burnout.
Ask for and Accept Help
Others may desire to or be willing to help with caregiving tasks, even if only temporarily.
Set Realistic Goals
Understand that not all tasks can be done all of the time. Consider saying “no” to extra requests and demands.
Connect with Others
Find a support group, talk to a friend regularly, and connect with others who can listen and understand.
Avoid Common Causes of Burnout
Caregiving for too many hours, not having space to process emotions, lack of sleep, and other issues are common causes of burnout. Avoid these to recover and prevent further exhaustion.
Make Time for Yourself
Make time for rebuilding and recharging—consider scheduling time for the gym, naps, doctor appointments, and self-care activities.
Burnout Risk Factors
Caregivers are more likely to experience burnout if they:
- Are female
- Live with the person they are caring for
- Are socially isolated
- Have depression
- Face financial difficulties
- Spend most of their hours caregiving
- Didn’t have much choice in caregiving options
Caregiving by the Numbers
Caregiving is common in the United States.
- About 43.5 million people offer unpaid caregiving in the US
- About 15.7 million caregivers are helping someone with memory illnesses
- About 75% of caregivers are females
- About 57% of caregivers perform clinical tasks
- The average caregiver is 49 years old
- Family caregivers spend 24.4 hours caregiving a week on average
- 40% of caregivers are in high burden situations
Due to the prevalence of caregiving in the US, support groups for caregivers are common. These can be helpful in preventing and coping with burnout.
Home Care Tip
There are many options for caregiving. Caregivers should not feel they are the only ones who can help their loved ones because the pressure will cause or exacerbate burnout. Involve other loved ones in caregiving, find an adult day care, or consider a private aide.
Harmony is founded with a single focus in mind: providing compassionate home care and home healthcare to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Our trustworthy caregivers are ready to lend a helping hand to your mother, father, children, and loved ones in Indiana County, Cambria County, Armstrong County, and many more locations throughout the region. Contact us and one of our patient advocates will be happy to discuss how Harmony's services can help your family today.
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