Signs Of Caregiver Stress And Tips To Avoid Caregiver Burnout
Learn the difference between stress and caregiver burnout and ways you can avoid or ease both.
The demands of caregiving for a loved one can be overwhelming and exhausting and oftentimes, caregivers feel like theyre near a breaking point. However, there is a difference between caregiver stress and caregiver burnout.
Stress usually involves feeling under pressure when the demands of a situation require too much emotional and physical energy. Under stress, a person may try to gain more control so that things will get better.
Caregiver burnout, on the other hand, happens when a person reaches a point where they have nothing left to give. They often feel mentally and physically exhausted to the point where they are beyond caring. It often feels that there is no end in sight to their situation.
To avoid reaching a breaking point, the important thing is to lower your stress and avoid caregiver burnout altogether.
Causes And Symptoms Of Caregiver Burnout
Failing to practice self-care habits contributes to the stress caregivers feel and the problems they may experience with their own physical, mental and emotional health. The likely outcome or consequence for a caregiver who is not taking care of him- or herself is burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion that results from failing, wearing out, or feeling totally used up due to too many demands on ones energy, strength, or resources.
Causes of caregiver burnout may include:
- Emotional demands resulting from the care receivers condition. An extreme degree of physical and emotional care is needed. There is just no way for you make him or her well.
- Conflicting demands. The care receiver has needs, spouses have needs, children have needs, employers and co-workers have needs. You have needs. Trying to meet the needs of everyone creates conflict and stress.
- Ambiguity of roles. Sometimes caregivers do not know exactly what their roles and responsibilities are in relation to others around them.
- Work load. Theres just too much to do.
- Conflicting policies and procedures. These can prevent professional caregivers from doing what they believe is appropriate and family caregivers from receiving services they want and need.
- Lack of privacy. There is no time to be alone. There may be many people in and out of your home or your life assisting with some facet of the caregiving all the time.
These factors may contribute to feelings of:
What Is Caregiver Burnout
While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening if you feel that youre in over your head, if theres no hope that your family member will get better, or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.
If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mindeventually leading to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. And when you get to that point, both you and the person youre caring for suffer.
Thats why taking care of yourself isnt a luxury, its a necessity. Cultivating your own emotional and physical well-being is just as important as making sure your family member gets to their doctors appointment or takes their medication on time.
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Ask For Caregiving Help
Taking on all of the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks or assistance is a surefire recipe for caregiver burnout. Dont try to do it all alone.
Look into respite care. Enlist friends and family who live near you to run errands, bring a hot meal, or watch the patient so you can take a well-deserved break. Volunteers or paid help can also provide in-home services, either occasionally or on a regular basis. Or you can explore out-of-home respite programs such as adult day care centers and nursing homes.
Speak up. Dont expect friends and family members to automatically know what you need or how youre feeling. Be up front about whats going on with you and the person that youre caring for. If you have concerns or thoughts about how to improve the situation, express them, even if youre unsure of how theyll be received. Start a dialogue.
Spread the responsibility. Try to get as many family members involved as possible. Even someone who lives far away can help. You may also want to divide up caregiving tasks. One person can take care of medical responsibilities, another with finances and bills, and another with groceries and errands, for example.
Set up a regular check-in. Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church or senior center to call you at a regular time . This person can help you spread status updates and coordinate with other family members.
Path To Improved Well Being
Learn to tell whether your feelings are normal, or are signs of too much stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, there are things you can do.
Talk to your family doctor. Dont be ashamed or embarrassed about how youre feeling. Tell your doctor about all of your symptoms. He or she can recommend coping methods, support groups, counseling, or medicine to help you feel better.
Talk to your loved one and your family. You may feel that you shouldnt burden people with your feelings because youre not the one who is sick. But talking about the illness and how you feel can help relieve stress. Talk with your loved one, other family members, or friends who can provide support.
Take care of your health. Studies show that caregivers are more likely to suffer from a number of health problems. The following can help manage stress and minimize your risk for health problems:
- Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
Read Caregiver Health and Wellness for more information.
Educate yourself about your loved ones medical condition. Find out all you can about the condition your loved one has, the treatment he or she is going through, and its side effects. Being informed can give you a sense of control. Your loved ones doctor, support groups, the internet, and libraries are good resources for more information.
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How Can I Tell If Caregiving Is Putting Too Much Stress On Me
Its normal to have a lot of conflicting feelings. Its not normal for these feelings to last for a long time or to disrupt your life. Because being a caregiver is so hard, some doctors think of caregivers as hidden patients. Studies show that caregivers are much more likely than noncaregivers to suffer from health problems. These could include stress overload, depression, anxiety, and other issues.
Safety In The Bathroom
The bathroom is another household area that needs to be tackled for safety. Some tips include:
Make sure that the bathroom is well lit
Keep the floor clean and free of hazards
Put nonslip mats in the shower and bathtub
Hang grab bars near the toilet and shower
Put a raised seat on the toilet
Install a faucet with a lever, rather than a knob, to make it easier to turn on and off
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Are They Getting More Irritable
Stressed out people tend to be more irritable. Caregivers have the best of intentions when they start the caregiving process, but sometimes the emotional and physical stress of the position can take their toll. Having anger is a natural outpouring of that stress, and the best way of coping with it is to find ways to reduce their overall stress levels.
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What Is Caregiver Stress
Caregiver stress is a type of stress that is often experienced by family members who are providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and can be caused by the demands of the caregiving role, as well as by the emotional stress of providing care for someone with dementia. Caregiver stress can lead to physical and emotional health problems if left unmanaged.
Take Care Of Your Own Health
Think of your body like a car. With the right fuel and proper maintenance, it will run reliably and well. Neglect its upkeep and it will start to give you trouble. Dont add to the stress of your caregiving situation with avoidable health woes.
Keep on top of your doctor visits. Its easy to forget about your own health when youre busy with a loved ones care. Dont skip check-ups or medical appointments. You need to be healthy in order to take good care of your family member.
Exercise. When youre stressed and tired, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising. But youll feel better afterwards. Exercise is a powerful stress reliever and mood enhancer. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes on most daysbreak it up into three 10-minute sessions if thats easier. When you exercise regularly, youll also find it boosts your energy level and helps you fight fatigue.
Practice a relaxation technique. A daily relaxation or meditation practice can help you relieve stress and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. Even a few minutes in the middle of an overwhelming day can help you feel more centered.
Eat well. Nourish your body with fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats such as fish, nuts, and olive oil. Unlike sugar and caffeinewhich provide a quick pick-me-up and an even quicker crashthese foods will fuel you with steady energy.
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Caregivers Must Take Care Of Themselves
Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress need to be addressed. First, try to avoid caregiver burnout. Second, take at least a 10-15 minutes everyday to do something enjoyable. Third, stay in touch with friends and family. Fourth, keep up with activities and personal hobbies. Find a friend or relative to be your support person. Finally, many will sign up for online warning Signs of Caregiver Stress support group. Many groups are easy to find thorough the Alzheimers Association.
Caregivers: Signs Of Stress
Caregiver stress is a problem for caregivers who extend their support to their patients who may be suffering from various chronic diseases.
It doesnt matter whether the caregiver trained in nursing and medicine or untrained, they can still suffer from stress. The trained caregivers, or the nurses take the charge of looking after their patients in the best possible manner. The untrained caregivers or the family members of the patients, too put their best foot forward in providing their loved one with the best of care. Both the trained as well as the untrained caregivers look after their patients in all the possible ways and means. From feeding them to sponging them, from reading the newspaper for them to giving them tablets, from accompanying them to keep them entertained these caregivers treat their patients like their kids. Sometimes, these caregivers become victims of caregiver stress and they start losing their physical, mental as well as emotional sanity. Caregiver stress can be exhibited by emotions such as rage, exhaustion, anger or guilt as a result of the burden of caring for the chronically ill dependent. This syndrome can be suffered by both trained and untrained caregivers and involves the following signs:
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What Causes Caregiver Stress Or Burnout
There is no clear definition of caregiver stress. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stress as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Burnout can be a response to stress, defined as extreme emotional exhaustion. According to stress.org, stages of burnout are:
A caregiver with stress or burnout exhibits signs of feeling overloaded, overwhelmed, emotionally drained, tiredness, detachment from the person they are caring for, and a reduced sense of accomplishment.
What Causes Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect themselves. Other things that can lead to caregiver burnout include:
- Role confusion — You may feel confused to be a caregiver. It can be hard to separate this role from the one of spouse, child, or friend.
- Unrealistic expectations — You may expect your care to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of the person you care for. This may be unrealistic for patients who have a progressive disease such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
- Lack of control — It can be frustrating to deal with lacking the money, resources, and skills to manage your loved one’s care well.
- Unreasonable demands — You may take on too much, partly because you see providing care as your job alone.
- Other factors — You may not recognize when youâre burned out and get to the point where you canât function well. You may even get sick yourself.
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Who Is At Risk For Caregiver Burnout
Anyone who acts as a caregiver to a relative, partner, or friend is at risk of burnout. Thats because family caregivers are emotionally invested in their loved ones care. Caregiving can also complicate your relationship it may be difficult to see yourself as both a caregiver and that persons child, spouse, or parent.
Then there are the activities of daily living that your loved one cant do on their own. As a caregiver, you may have to feed, dress, bathe, and toilet your loved one. In addition, you might do their laundry, clean their home, and prepare meals. Youll also likely juggle planning and transportation for all of their appointments, from visits with their healthcare provider to haircuts and grocery shopping.
You often manage your loved ones tasks on top of your own responsibilities. Or you may be in the sandwich generation those in the middle of two generations who take care of an older parent as well as their own children. Its easy to see how caregiving can go from feeling gratifying to burning you out if you dont have the right resources, enough support, or time to take care of your needs.
Handle Caregiver Stress Syndrome One Day At A Time
Taking proactive steps to ease the stress you feel while caring for others will cause meaningful improvements. Getting beneficial results requires self-reflection and willingness to know you need assistace. Understand that any care plan should stay flexible. Just as those who receive your help have various needs over time, you will too.
Tune in to your feelings and which activities have the most adverse consequences. Then, make adjustments for the best results. Taking that methodical approach will allow you to stay maximally resilient, causing personal benefits, plus positive effects to those you encounter in life.
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Signs Of Stress In Your Caregiver
By Charlie Kimball, MedicalCareAlert.com
Having a disability is rough, as it’s necessary to learn different ways of dealing with your surroundings. With new disabilities, it’s often necessary to get a caregiver to assist with the activities of daily living. The right caregiver can bring joy, enriching your life to help you achieve great triumphs, but, like any great calling, there is the chance that the caregiver can burn out. But there will be warnings, and you must be on the lookout for the telltale signs of caregiver stress.
Having empathy with that caregiver is necessary. They are with you to take on the world and conquer the mountain, but there are times where they need to back off for just a moment in order to provide their best service. Here are some red flags that you should be watching for to let you know when your caregiver is in distress.
Avoid Caregiver Burnout By Feeling Empowered
Feeling powerless is the number one contributor to burnout and depression. And its an easy trap to fall into as a caregiver, especially if you feel stuck in a role you didnt expect or helpless to change things for the better. But no matter the situation, you arent powerless. This is especially true when it comes to your state of mind. You cant always get the extra time, money, or physical assistance youd like, but you can always get more happiness and hope.
Practice acceptance. When faced with the unfairness of a loved ones illness or the burden of caregiving, theres often a need to make sense of the situation and ask Why? But you can spend a tremendous amount of energy dwelling on things you cant change and for which there are no clear answers. And at the end of the day, you wont feel any better. Try to avoid the emotional trap of feeling sorry for yourself or searching for someone to blame.
Embrace your caregiving choice. Acknowledge that, despite any resentments or burdens you feel, you have made a conscious choice to provide care. Focus on the positive reasons behind that choice. Perhaps you provide care to repay your parent for the care they gave you growing up. Or maybe its because of your values or the example you want to set for your children. These deep, meaningful motivations can help sustain you through difficult times.
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