Taking care of a loved one can be a rewarding experience. That said, being a caregiver is also very stressful at times. Those who care for others are more likely to put the needs of loved ones over their own. They may also be juggling full-time jobs and other priorities and demands.
Unlike nurses and those who make a living taking care of others, unpaid caregivers do not get vacation days or paid time off. However, caregivers still need regular breaks from their caregiving responsibilities. Otherwise, stress will build and physical and mental health can suffer.
When a caregiver fails to address their own needs and the stress piles up, this can lead to something called caregiver burnout. Read on for more info about signs and causes of caregiver burnout and ways to lessen burnout.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Stressed caregivers may experience fatigue, anxiety and depression.” Caregivers who are suffering from burnout may undergo a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. They may also feel alone, unsupported or underappreciated.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
The symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to the symptoms of stress and depression. They may be physical, emotional or both. The Cleveland Clinic identifies these common symptoms:
- Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones.
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
- Feeling sad, irritable, hopeless and helpless.
- Changes in appetite, weight or both.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Getting sick more often.
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring.
- Emotional and physical exhaustion.
If you or a loved one are suffering from caregiver burnout you are not alone. Almost every caregiver experiences burnout at some point. However, recognizing the signs of burnout is easier said than done. That is why it is important to check in and assess your own health often.
Caregiver Burnout Quiz
One way to determine if you are experiencing caregiver burnout is to take a moment to reflect on how you are feeling. The Institute on Aging offers these “yes or no” questions to help get you started.
- Are there things you no longer take part in that you used to enjoy in your free time?
- Are you finding yourself more sad, exhaustive, angry or reactive than you used to be?
- Are you experiencing frequent illness or any unexpected physical symptoms?
- Have you noticed a change in your level of communication with friends or family?
- In the past week was there a moment you felt completely overwhelmed?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is possible you are experiencing caregiver burnout. Please note that this quiz is not a substitute for a licensed professional’s diagnosis of caregiver burnout. Here’s a more in-depth questionnaire from the American Medical Association.
Your Options to Lessen Caregiver Burnout
If you or a loved one are experiencing caregiver burnout there are a number of resources available to help. We also encourage you to consult with a doctor or licensed professional for further assistance
Consider the following resources to prevent or lessen caregiver burnout:
- Call on family, friends and neighbors for assistance.
- Attend a local support group for caregivers.
- Look into services & programming offered at adult day centers.
- Consider hired support from a home health aide.
- Seek out residential respite care services.
In case you are unfamiliar with respite care, here’s a quick run-down. Respite care is a temporary or recurring form of caregiving assistance that is available to give unpaid caregivers a break.
Residential respite care is caregiving assistance offered through a senior living community.
If you are considering respite care for a senior and are in the Orlando area, we encourage you to check out the services available at Village on the Green, a Life Care community
Village on the Green’s Respite Care Options
At Village on the Green, we offer residential respite care stays of a week or more in our newly remodeled health center, which boasts a 5-star rating from Medicare. You can rest easy knowing that your loved one is being cared for by our team of caring experts. Short-term guests will also have access to all of the luxurious services and amenities available to our full-time residents.
If you are experiencing caregiver burnout or would like to learn more about respite care services at Village on the Green, please contact us using the form below or call 407-682-0230.