About 43.5 million adults – or 1 in 3 – offer unpaid, informal caregiving in the US according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Being a caregiver can be an extremely difficult and exhaustive task, especially if it’s done alongside other responsibilities such as work or taking care of your immediate family. Caregivers spend 24.4 hours caregiving a week on average, not leaving much time for self-care. With these additional responsibilities comes added stress that can lead to caregiver burnout. Here we will explore the signs of burnout and how to cope effectively.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout leaves caregivers in a state of exhaustion – physically, emotionally, and/or mentally – that can lead to a change in attitude. Common signs of burnout include:
– Lack of energy
– Sleeping too few or too many hours
– Feeling tired
– Sense of helplessness
– Weight loss or gain
– Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
– Not paying attention to your own needs
– Feeling like caregiving is the only focus in your life
– Becoming impatient or irritable with loved ones
– Anxiety about the future
– Depression or mood swings
– Coping with everyday tasks or problems is difficult
– Headaches, stomach aches, and other physical signs of stress
– More illness prone
Tips for Coping with Caregiver Burnout
Burnout doesn’t have to continue once you recognize the signs. Follow the tips below to prevent and cope with caregiver burnout.
– Ask For and Accept Help. You’re not in this alone, ask loved ones to help out. Create a list of items that you need help with and let your helper choose what they can help with.
– Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself. Don’t think that you can take care of everything at all times, no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Understand that you are doing the best you can. Prioritize your tasks and establish a routine.
– Connect with Others. Speak with your family and friends often and find out about caregiving resources in your community. Often, talking it through with someone else will be a big help.
– Avoid Common Causes of Burnout. Not getting enough sleep and working too many hours are two of the most common causes. Avoid these and other causes to help yourself recover and prevent further exhaustion.
– Make Time for Yourself. Block time out to take care of yourself – working out, taking a nap, reading a book, or hanging out with friends and family.
If caring for a loved one becomes too difficult, in-home care is a great option. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how Bluebird Homecare can help both you and your loved one lead happy lives