How to spot the warning signs and prevent burnout among caregivers

Caring for a loved one can bring great joy, but it can also take an enormous toll.

How do you spot caregiver burnout?

It can blindside you when you least expect it, and when it does, it can hit you as hard as any illness.

“We don’t want to admit that we’re tired and actually developing resentments of our own, so caregiver burnout, it’s one of those things that’s kind of a sleeper until it’s kind of on fire,” said psychologist Dr. Allana Coffee.

How do you balance caring for your loved ones and caring for yourself? It’s a question most caregivers never ask.

“They get tired. They start getting sick. They start feeling fatigued, poor concentration,” Coffee said.

That leads to exhaustion and a lack motivation. Others are easily frustrated or forgetful.

Caregiver burnout can manifest itself in conflicts at work and at home.

“They start to become maybe irritable or their attitude is not so optimistic or go get ’em like it had once been,” Coffee said.

Those who neglect themselves run the risk of depression, hypertension, stroke, and even death.

There other warning signs that could indicate you’re reaching your limit:

  • You no longer find pleasure in things you once enjoyed.
  • You’re getting negative feedback at work or problems with your spouse.
  • You have trouble sleeping or notice drastic weight change.
  • You have thoughts of anger or resentment toward the person you’re caring for, and irritation toward others who aren’t helping.

“(A caregiver might think) ‘How come nobody is helping me? They only come around during holidays. I need help everyday,'” Coffee said. “There’s also the complaint that when they do come and help, they want to rearrange everything.”

Coffee advises that caregivers consider visiting a therapist or finding a supportive community group, start the day with you and focus on you, and understand what you can and cannot control.

“We’re supposed to be that good daughter, that good mother, that good friend, so when we start to burn out, we hide it a lot,” Coffee said.

Self-care needs to be a top priority when caring for someone else, otherwise no one receives care.

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