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Caregiver Burnout

Symptoms of caregiver burnout

Caregiver Burnout

In the first of this two part series we examine the cause of caregiver burnout and identify the symptoms.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed as a caregiver. The key to providing the best care is knowing the signs that you are overwhelmed and taking action to lighten your workload. Constantly caring for someone else’s physical and mental wellbeing is taxing. So, full-time caregivers can easily become overwhelmed by the demands on their time, energy and emotional labor. Caregiving becomes even more stressful when you lack the skills or resources to ensure a high standard of care. People “burn out” when they don’t have the support or resources needed to do their job. If caregivers can recognize they’re at risk of burning out, they will be able to ask for the support they need.

In addition to the heavy workload and emotional demands of providing care to a loved one, most caregivers have the added pressures of raising a family and holding down a steady job. In fact, 28% of caregivers have a child or grandchild under the age of 18 living in their household. These conflicting demands can cause caregivers to neglect their own physical, mental and spiritual needs. When caregivers ignore their own health in favor of taking care of others, they run the risk of burning themselves out. 

The definition of caregiver Burnout from the Cleveland Clinic.
The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.

Caregiver burnout often occurs when caregivers overexert themselves trying to do more than they can handle on their own. According to the AARP’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 report, nearly ½ of caregivers reported that no other unpaid caregiver helps their care recipient. Even more shockingly, 1 in 3 caregivers reported that they have no help at all, paid or unpaid. With such a high burden of care, it’s not surprising many caregivers risk burning out.

Spotting the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

It’s important to recognize if you are at risk of burning out, so you can get help before you become overwhelmed. Being aware of the symptoms of burnout can help you manage stress and prevent the quality of your care from decreasing. According to Aging In Place, one of the first signs of burnout is increased irritability. Caregivers might also experience any number of the following symptoms:

The symptoms of caregiver burnout are varied.
The symptoms of caregiver burnout are varied.

If you recognize these warning signs, don’t freak out! There are active steps you can take to reduce the burden you feel and bring balance back into your life. For tips on how to prevent caregiver burnout and practice self-care, look out for our next blog post.  

Eileen Donahue

Former home health aide passionate about aging in place.

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