Many of us experience burnout at some point in our lives. Getting an education, raising children, and working long hours can lead to burnout. But how do we address caregiver burnout from taking care of a family member as they age or need assistance?
According to the Pew Research Center, “there are 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the United States,” and roughly nine out of ten of those caregivers are caring for a relative.
Read on to find out how to spot the symptoms of caregiver burnout and how to prevent them from continuing.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout isn’t just physical exhaustion from the caregiver responsibilities—like physical care, emotional support, or financial assistance—but also emotional and mental exhaustion. The stress that caregivers feel can be ongoing and ultimately cause long-term problems.
Developing a long-term care plan is crucial and may help prevent caregiver burnout.
Signs Your Loved One May Be Burning Out
Burnout can present itself in many forms and symptoms. You may notice your loved one experiencing changes in sleep or eating habits, mood swings, being under the weather more than usual, or displaying anxiety about everyday activities.
Anxiety & Depression
As a caregiver, your loved one may be experiencing anxiety and depression about their current situation or future possibilities. These symptoms may include anxiety about small tasks or signs of hopelessness and tremendous sadness. Caregiver stress can amplify anxiety and depression for a loved one who is providing care to take care of themselves.
Stress from caregiving can lead to difficulty in falling or staying asleep, and a lack of sleep can cause health problems down the road. Sleep is a crucial part of letting our bodies rest and replenish.
Major Mood Swings
Sudden changes in mood—quick to anger or easily crying—can be a sign that someone is not getting the proper self-care they need and may be suffering from caregiver burnout. Especially if these types of mood swings are new, it is essential to address changes in mood or behavior.
Declining Overall Health
Caregiver burnout and stress can lead to a weakened immune system, and that means getting sick more often and staying ill longer. Weight loss, lack of appetite, or sleeping too much or too little may be signs that your overall health is declining.
Lack of Focus
Trouble concentrating or the inability to focus on small tasks may be a sign of burnout. As a caregiver, there are so many care details to remember that you could lose focus in other areas of your personal life.
Neglecting Own Health & Responsibilities
Without treating signs of burnout, you ultimately risk neglecting your personal health and responsibilities. This can have a lasting effect on your relationships and professional life. Help is available to prevent this, and you should reach out to your local in-home healthcare provider to see what services would fit best your needs.
Tips for Helping Your Loved One Combat Caregiver Burnout
If you are seeing signs of caregiver burnout in your loved one, reach out to them, and offer assistance. You can recommend better methods of communication, suggest support groups to join, activities or getaways to participate in, and other simple self-care tactics.
Use Methods for Mass Communications
The emotional and mental exhaustion from being a caregiver doesn’t have to be taken on alone. Reach out to family and friends and let them know what’s going on and what you or your loved one needs. You may be surprised after sending that group text or email that someone is actually available to bring a hot meal or able to give up their weekend to help out.
If group texts or emails are overwhelming, try a website like Caring Bridge to set up a free site. This website can act as your family’s hub of information about what care is being provided for your loved one and how they can help out.
Join a Support Group
Find a local support group that understands what you are going through, because you are not alone in caring for a loved one. If you are not the caregiver but see a family member who needs support, you can help them find a local support group and go with them.
Being understood as a caregiver, and understanding what a loved one might be going through as a caregiver, can help alleviate the stress of feeling alone in this journey.
Put Time Into Positive Relationships
Don’t let your positive relationships with friends and family members fall behind caregiving duties. Having those simple positive interactions can make your day as a caregiver, and reaching out to a family member who is providing care can show them that they are not alone.
Caregivers need time for themselves, and organizing a day trip or weekend away may seem impossible as the primary caregiver for a loved one. Our organization, MediQuest Staffing & Homecare, offers flexible scheduling for times when you or a loved one need some time away from being the sole caregiver.
Delegating Daily Activities
Any caregiver that takes on daily care tasks can end up feeling overwhelmed. These daily tasks can include medical care, emotional support, or financial assistance. You should take stock of all the daily tasks and see how they can be shared or divided up among family members, friends, or in-home care professionals.
Celebrate Small Victories
We all need days where we feel accomplished, even if it’s just the small victories. Did you have a great day with your loved one where everything went smoothly? Or did the doctor’s appointment that usually causes stress go off without a hitch? Celebrating small victories can help alleviate stress and brighten up mental health.
Hire a Professional Caregiver Part-Time
No one can do it all by themselves, and being a caregiver for a loved one can be exhausting both mentally and physically. Hiring a professional caregiver, even part-time, can take a load off of any caregiver’s shoulders.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Caregiver Needs
Are you experiencing caregiver burnout and want to discuss your options? MediQuest Staffing & Homecare in Lancaster, PA, is available to help as little or as much as you need with your caregiver duties. We offer flexible scheduling of any services for when you need us the most, including weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
At MediQuest Staffing & Homecare, we have a team of healthcare professionals who have been serving the Lancaster County community for over 17 years. MediQuest provides high-quality, in-home service and care for your loved ones in the Lancaster, Pa. area.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your caregiver needs.