What Are The Signs Of Caregiver Burnout
Oftentimes, caregivers are so focused on the wellbeing of their loved ones that they dont notice that its taking a toll on their own health. Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you are experiencing caregiver stress or burnout.
- Increased anxiety, depression, irritability and impatience
- Lack of energy or constantly feeling exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
- Neglecting your responsibilities and needs
- Falling sick more often than before
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in sleep patterns
Knowing When Its Time To Take It Easy
Caregivers usually shrug off the most common signs of caregiver stress, such as fatigue and anxiety, as part of the job. However, the long-term effects of these conditions could lead to serious threats to your health and happiness. As stated in the Mayo Clinics article Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself, caregivers may be so focused on loved one that dont realize that own health and well-being are suffering.
Signs of caregiver stress include but are not limited to:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Feeling overwhelmed and constantly worried
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Significant weight change
- Frequent headaches or body pain
- Feeling irritable, hopeless or helpless
- Lack of interest in things you enjoy
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Withdrawing from friends and family
These symptoms occur most often when caregivers start to neglect their own health, happiness and well-being. Other stressors such as role reversals , lack of control or unrealistic expectations for impacting a loved ones health can increase the risks and severity of these symptoms, leading to serious health problems such as depression or high blood pressure.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Caregiver Burnout
- You have much less energy than you once had.
- It seems like you catch every cold or bout of flu thats going around.
- Youre constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break.
- You neglect your own needs, either because youre too busy or you dont care anymore.
- Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction.
- You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available.
- Youre increasingly impatient and irritable with the person youre caring for.
- You feel helpless and hopeless.
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Seeking Support To Alleviate Caregiver Stress
Lifestyle changes and sleep hygiene practices can help, and may provide relief in the short-term, but the reality may be that you need some help in your caring role. Caring for a person with complex or multiple health needs, mobility difficulties or cognitive challenges can be a 24/7 job, which is unrealistic for any one person to do alone.
We know how much strength it takes to be a carer, and how hard it can feel to let someone else step in and give us a hand. However, it is just as important to take good care of yourself as it is to care for your loved ones.
Taking a break from your caring duties can be a great way to recharge your mind and body, get some rest, and come back feeling refreshed and recharged. Respite care is available to give you the peace of mind that your loved one is well cared for whilst you switch off and relax. Not only will you feel better for the break, you will likely be better equipped to care for your loved one and enjoy their company, having had a chance to rest and recover.
Getting support from family and friends with some of your caring responsibilities, such as shopping or taking your loved one to appointments, can also help ease some stress whilst allowing other close relations to experience the rewarding feeling of helping someone dear to us. Another great way to unload some stress is by talking to other carers who have shared experiences.
Know The Caregiver Burnout Symptoms
Very often, caregivers can find themselves accustomed to the routine stress, worry, and discomfort that comes with providing care for a loved one. And as a result, you may not know the warning signs of caregiver fatigue until it already starts affecting your health and ability to provide care.
Below, we explain some common symptoms of caregiver burnout. If you notice yourself experiencing these symptoms regularly, its an indication that it may be time to take some time for yourself.
1. A Short Fuse
Losing your temper easily or feeling angry toward friends, family members or even the person youre caring for is one obvious sign of caregiver stress. Frustration may particularly increase when obstacles or challenges come up, whether major or minor.
2. Emotional Outbursts
If you find yourself crying or feeling despair unexpectedly or more often, that could be another warning sign. Of course, if youre caring for a loved one with a declining condition, its natural to grieve, and caregiving can stir up a range of complicated emotions. But if youre increasingly emotional or feeling emotionally fragile, there may be something more going on. Depression is a real risk for caregivers. Even if youre not clinically depressed, emotional outbursts can be an unconscious outlet for feelings of being overwhelmed.
3. Sleep Problems
4. Significant Weight Change
5. Physical Ailments
6. Social Isolation
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What Is Compassion Fatigue
While burnout occurs over time as a caregiver feels overwhelmed by the stress of caring for a loved one, compassion fatigue happens suddenly. Its the loss of the ability to empathize and have compassion for other people, including the person youre caring for.
Its caused by the extreme stress that comes with empathizing with the suffering and traumatic experiences of the people you care for. Its mainly been studied in healthcare workers, but it also happens to caregivers.
Some of the warning signs are:
- lack of concentration
Once its identified and dealt with through self-reflection and lifestyle changes, compassion fatigue usually gets better quickly. If you think you have it, you should see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible.
Find A Support Network
Sometimes, when you are the main support for someone who is unwell, its easy to forget about a support network for yourself. Dont be afraid to reach out to family and friends for help when you need it. Whether its dropping off groceries or picking up prescriptions, a little bit of support can go a long way to help you feel more supported.
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Top Tips For Managing Caregiver Stress
The feelings of tension you may feel as a caregiver can frustrate and exhaust you. Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful techniques you can use to manage your stress. We took to social media and got feedback from real caregivers on how they manage the pressure. Here are our favorite tips from fellow caregivers and thought leaders on how to deal with caregiver stress:
Prioritize Your Own Medical Needs
Caregivers still have regular checkups and dentist appointments, just like anyone else. It can be easy to get so caught up in the medical treatment of your loved one that you forget that you actually share some of the same needs. Take note of any appointments youve missed or may need in the next few months, and if necessary, start enlisting help so that you can make your appointments without a hitch.
Also, dont forget about therapy. It might not be for everyone, but therapy is a tool thats definitely worth considering. Many therapists specialize in the managing and relieving of stress through means such as Progressive Relaxation Training, mindfulness-based techniques and more. To find out about the different types of therapy and which one might be right for you, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and discuss getting a referral.
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Respite Care Options For Family Caregivers
All caregivers face a time when they need alternative care options for their aging loved one, whether that be for some personal self-care time, a family emergency, or a work trip. Today, there is a wide range of respite care options for times when family caregivers have to tend to personal obligations. What follows are some of the most common respite care options for elderly adults.
Create A Support System For Yourself
Over time, caregiving can take an emotional toll. Even if you have help with the actual caregiving, you’re likely to need emotional support, too. Many hospitals, health care plans, and religious organizations offer support groups for caregivers. Support groups are a good place to vent your feelings and share ideas with people who are facing similar situations. Dr. Mahoney has found that online support groupswhich don’t require face-to-face participation, travel, or arranging for a substitute caregiverhave been a good alternative for some people. If you’re not comfortable with a group, a geriatric care manager may be able to provide needed support and perspective.
Psychotherapy can also be valuable. Providing care for a family member may trigger a host of emotions, including inadequacy, regret, guilt, and even resentment. Caregivers are also at increased risk of depression. A therapist can help you work through such issues and develop coping mechanisms. If you don’t know where to turn, ask your clinician for a referral.
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Develop New Coping Tools
The best coping mechanism is accepting your feelings. Just know that it is okay to feel frustrated, guilty, and angry. If you feel as if you have failed, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible caregiver. Maintain a positive mindset about everything. When you feel stressed, use humor to deal with the situation.
Caring For A Senior With Addiction
Just as caregivers can develop substance use disorders, so can the seniors in your care.
Research suggests that roughly 17% of seniors in the country suffer from alcohol or drug abuse problems. You may face this issue while you are caring for an elderly client or loved one.
There are no age restrictions when it comes to addiction. Seniors can develop addiction problems just as easily as young people, particularly when coping with grief, depression, or pain.
Sometimes addiction problems are unintentional. For example, misunderstanding medication dosage instructions can lead to addiction.
Mixing alcohol or illegal drugs with prescription drugs can have devastating effects on a seniors health. Addiction can be harmful at any stage of life, but seniors are more vulnerable to the devastating effects of alcohol or drug abuse due to their age and related health issues.
Seniors are also more susceptible to serious injuries while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Slurred speech or smell of alcohol on breath or clothes.
- Empty liquor bottles around the home.
- Uncharacteristic behavior or mood swings/depression.
- Scrapes or bruises due to falling after drinking too much.
- Frequent requests for prescription refills.
- Doctor shopping: receiving the same prescriptions from multiple physicians simultaneously.
- Use of multiple pharmacies.
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Caregiver Stress: Symptoms Causes & Techniques To Cope
Posted on 09/04/2021
Providing care for a loved one can be incredibly rewarding. However, it can take an emotional and physical toll on even the most resilient caregivers own well-being. Today, we will be exploring the ways you can recognise Caregiver Stress. Well also be giving advice on how carers can protect their own health and well-being while caring for someone elses.
Sleep Deficits In Australian Carers
Carers often work above and beyond the usual demands of a full-time job, as caregiving rarely adheres to a standard work schedule. This means that carers in Australia are frequently burnt out, underslept, and overworked. The Australian Government is increasingly concerned with supporting carers to ensure they are supported in their critical roles, and has drawn special attention to the concerning lack of quality sleep among unpaid carers.
Carers Australia have reported that poor sleep and persistent tiredness is a major contributor to poor health among unpaid and family caregivers. Carers whose loved ones require a greater level of support, or who need care at frequent intervals including overnight, report worse sleep than those with less intensive or constant carings demands, with some carers getting as little as 4 hours per night.
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Emotional Effects Of Caregiving
Stress can bring on an abundance of symptoms. Here are some of the more common and obvious symptoms of being stressed out:
- Inability to sleep, despite being tired
- Upset Stomach
- Change in eating habits
- Body aches
- Substance abuse
Symptoms of stress vary in severity and its important to remember that stress affects every individual in a different way. Certain careers and responsibilities also add to the way stress effects an individual. For example, according to Career Cast, a hair stylist and a jeweler have low-stress careers, while a paramedic and a firefighter have high-stress careers. One career not that is not listed as a high-stress job, but many would argue it is, is caregiving.
Home caregivers are usually responsible for a loved ones health and well-being, and they are typically with this person 24/7. Focusing on someone aside from yourself every hour of the day can get pretty stressful. Far too often caregivers find themselves suffering from caregiver burnout, because they are under so much pressure.
Limit Drugs And Alcohol
Certain drugs and alcohol can interfere with our normal brain and hormone function, causing difficulties sleeping. Try to reduce your caffeine intake later in the day, as even a small amount can keep you awake. Also try to avoid relying on substances like alcohol or sleeping pills to get to sleep. Whilst a drink or two may feel like it helps you sleep, alcohol actually makes it harder to get into a deep state of sleep, making it more likely to wake up feeling groggy and tired. Reliance on sleeping aids can also worsen insomnia, as the body becomes accustomed to chemically-induced sleep, making it harder to get a good nights rest naturally.
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Serving Seniors And Their Families
No one should have to go through the journey of caregiving without a supportive team by their side, says Peggy. Our community believes that supporting the families who care for seniors at home is just as important as serving the residents in our own care. Healthy caregivers lead to healthy seniors. Its that simple.
To help families, we offer educational programs and events to connect them to excellent resources for providing senior care at home. And in the meantime, our experienced team is just a call or visit away to discuss your most pressing care concerns.
If youre feeling overwhelmed by caregiver stress, dont wait to seek help. Positive coping techniques can get you the relief you need. Call Lions Gate for help discovering positive ways to cope with your caregiving stress.
Update Your Care Plan
Researching Alzheimers caregiver burnout, alternative options for dementia care and supportive resources is only the beginning. In order to prevent or cure burnout and safeguard your health, youll need to act on this information and incorporate new measures for respite and self-care into your care plan. Remember, regularly evaluating and updating your care plan is key to ensuring both your care recipients needs and your own needs are met. Creating an effective dementia care plan can take some trial and error, so be patient and gentle with yourself.
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Assisted Living Respite Care
Though they typically cater to long-term residents, many assisted-living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing homes also offer short-term stays for older adults who need help with everyday tasks. Time frames range from a partial day to several weeks. The stay allows residents and their families peace of mind, knowing that a caregiver is always close at hand. A possible added benefit: The arrangement allows a commitment-free way for a potential resident to check out whether the facility might be a good fit down the line. Many facilities offer hourly, half-day, full-day, overnight, or extended respite stays. Costs will depend on the amount of care needed some places impose minimums and maximums on the number of days for a respite stay.
Some facilities offer respite stays only when not at full capacity, and some dont advertise their respite services openly, so you may need to do some investigating to find a local facility that offers the service. Some places to contact for help: Go to Caring.coms Senior Living Directory and search for assisted living facilities and nursing homes by city or zip code.
Women Caregiving And Covid
Two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women, meaning they provide daily or regular support to children, adults, or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Women who are caregivers have a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, including depression and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic can add even more stressors to caregiving. Here are some tips to help you manage caring for yourself and others:
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Keep Your Bedroom Dark And Cool
Because light can stimulate the brain and keep you awake, keeping your sleeping environment as dark as possible using blinds, curtains, or a sleeping mask can help you to get a deeper sleep. Maintaining a comfortable temperature, ideally not too warm, can also send the message to the brain that it is time to shut down and rest.
Symptoms To Look Out For
Caregiver Stress can manifest in many different ways. However, here are the most common symptoms to look out for:
- Feeling overwhelmed and constantly alert
- Feeling lonely, isolated, and like no one else can help
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Inability to concentrate
- Frustration, resentment, or apathy towards the person they are caring for
- Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and low self-esteem
- Frequent headaches or bodily pains
- Depression, sadness, or general feelings of hopelessness
- Exhaustion and difficulty completing simple daily tasks
If you find you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, you should consult your GP for help and read on to the section below for coping strategies.
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