Being a caregiver can be an exhausting and difficult task. It’s important to recognize caregiver burnout and cope healthily.
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.
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.
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
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.
In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Latest posts by Ted Wolfendale (see all)
- 7 Habits Every Senior Should have in 2019 - January 18, 2019
- How Lymphedema Affects Older Adults with Cancer - January 7, 2019
- How to Help Seniors Fight Loneliness During the Holidays - December 18, 2018