Living with Chronic Pain

Tips for Dealing With Caregiver Burnout


What is a caregiver?

A caregiver provides assistance with medical and personal needs to someone who is unable to care for themselves. Typically, caregivers have a relationship with the person they are taking care of. They may prepare meals, run errands, help with bathing, give medications, etc.

What is caregiver burnout

Caregiver burnout occurs when a person taking care of a loved one experiences physical, mental and emotional exhaustion due to the obligations. It can be caused from assuming too much responsibility, not practicing self-care, or not receiving help. Caregiver burnout can have negative impacts on the caretaker’s physical and mental well-being.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout

Caregiver burnout often has warning signs. Many symptoms are similar to that of depression and stress. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Withdrawal from others
  • Feeling anxious
  • Frequent headaches or body aches
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Constant worrying
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling depressed, hopeless or helpless
  • Weakened immune system
  • Wanting to self-harm
  • Neglecting personal needs and health
  • Exhaustion
  • Changes in weight
  • Inability to concentrate

Tips for dealing with caregiver burnout

There are several ways to manage or prevent burnout. Seven tips for dealing with caregiver burnout include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Accept the fact that you may need help. Being unable to take care of all duties is not a sign of weakness and does not mean that you care less about your loved one. Providing the care that a loved one needs often requires additional support, including assistance from another family member, friend, or nursing service.
  2. Discuss feelings as they occur. Suppressing negative emotions contributes to burnout. You may have feelings of frustration, sadness, guilt or anger, which is a normal response to being a caregiver. You should discuss these feelings with a family member, friend, co-worker, or therapist as they occur to avoid burnout.
  3. Join a caregiver support group. Being a caregiver can make you feel unappreciated and isolated. Joining a support group for caregivers, either in person or online, can be a great way to talk with others who share some of the same experiences and emotions. It can also provide support that you require.
  4. Practice self-care. It is impossible to take care of others without also practicing self-care; therefore, you should keep your regular physician appointments and take medications as directed. Self-care also includes taking regular breaks, eating healthy foods, staying physically active, and acquiring enough sleep.
  5. Attend social activities. Participating in social events, hobbies, and activities can prevent isolation and provide a mood boost. You should take time to be around others regularly and participate in activities that you enjoy.
  6. Take advantage of respite care or other caregiver services. Respite care provides a much-needed break for caregivers. This affords you time away, while ensuring that your loved one still receives necessary care.
  7. Remember that you are doing the best you can. A “perfect” caregiver does not exist, and trying to be flawless will only contribute to your burnout. You should trust that you are doing the most that you can and making decisions to the best of your ability.
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