Caregiver Burnout

Do You Have Caregiver Burnout?

By Jennifer Gruber Trotter MA, LMFT, LMHC

Given the statistics, many of us are currently or will be caring for a loved one over the age of 18 sometime in our lifetime. While caregiving is a true demonstration of unconditional love it is also very demanding physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Many who become caregivers have the role imposed upon them by the person they are caring for or by other family members. It is easy to understand that burnout is common among caregivers but it is also known that it is often not recognized by the caregiver which can complicate the situation.
What is caregiver burnout?
It is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. It is characterized by an attitude change: from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. It can also be accompanied by depression, fatigue, guilt, stress, and anxiety.

Below are some of the common symptoms for caregiver burnout:
– Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
– Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
– Feeling blue, 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
– Increased alcohol use or substance abuse

Caregivers often neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual health. They lose control over many aspects of their lives. They also often have unrealistic expectations about their role: “Shouldn’t Mom be happy that I have stopped my life to care for her? Shouldn’t she be grateful?” Sound familiar?
So how can we address or even better, prevent caregiver burnout? Below are some steps that you can take:

– Talking about it helps – find someone you trust such as a friend, pastor, or professional counselor
– Set realistic goals, ask for help
– Educate yourself about your loved one’s disease, understand the progression
– Take time for yourself every day. This is not a luxury, but a necessity for caregivers!
– Take advantage of respite care services, adult day cares, private duty care companies or volunteers
– Use humor to deal with every day stresses
– Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, exercise
– Join a support group, access community resources
– Discuss longterm care options with your loved one and the family: home care, assisted living, nursing home care

While caring for a loved one can be an opportunity to grow, a chance to develop new skills, a gift of love, and very rewarding, it can be challenging. Recognizing the risk and symptoms of burnout are important so that steps can be put in place to be the best caregiver you can be. This will benefit both you and the loved one you are caring for in the long run.

Jennifer Trotter is the Community Liaison for Sutton Homes Memory Care Homes. Locally owned and operated, Sutton Homes is Central Florida’s original memory care provider. Many people with memory problems do not want to leave their homes but care and keeping these individuals safe can become very difficult. Sutton Homes owns 8 homes in upscale neighborhoods where we care for 5 residents in each secure home. Our flat rate fee includes all the care, laundry, meals and snacks, and activities. A fully licensed assisted living facility, we provide resident centered care with attention to each individual’s preferences. Call today for a tour of the location nearest you at 407-740-8815 or visit our website for more information.

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