Caregiver burnout is the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that caregivers can experience when they overextend themselves. This usually happens because they either don’t receive the assistance they need or try to do more than they’re able to on their own.
Burnout may include a negative change in attitude, as well as fatigue, anxiety, stress and even depression. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the onset of caregiver burnout as quickly as possible. Here are six signs that you might be suffering from burnout if you’re caring for an aging loved one.
Withdrawing from others
Withdrawing from friends and family is a sign of possible caregiver burnout, and it can accelerate the burnout. In order to free up time, caregivers who feel overwhelmed sometimes stop making time for friends and family. Not only does this suggest that a caregiver is taking on more than he or she can handle, but it also removes their support structure from them. They isolate themselves, losing the physical and emotional support that their family and friends provide.
Struggling with daily life
As caregiving tasks eat into a caregiver’s own routine, coping with day-to-day life can become difficult. Everything from difficulty sleeping to lacking the energy to cook or clean could be a sign of burnout. Burnt out caregivers react to the struggles of day-to-day life differently. Some neglect chores and give in to their fatigue, while others turn to cigarettes, alcohol, coffee or sleeping medications to get them through tough days. Both reactions are signs that a caregiver is overextended and struggling.
Losing interest in hobbies
When caregivers become stretched for time or depressed, they may lose interest in the hobbies they once enjoyed. Becoming a caregiver often requires giving up some activities, as time must be devoted to your loved one. This can lead to more than simply losing time to do fun things, though. Losing interest in long-enjoyed activities is the real concern that indicates potential burnout.
Similarly, frequently becoming irritable is another change in temperament that may accompany caregiver burnout. Everyone gets mad once in awhile, but regularly lashing out due to small things suggests stress that could lead to burnout—especially if it’s out of character. Whether verbally or physically expressed, anger is a sign that a caregiver may be reaching their limit.
Concern from others
One of the clearest signs of caregiver burnout is when others ask about it. It’s normal for family and friends to inquire about a caregiver’s health and day-to-day life. Some more forthright individuals may even ask directly about burnout. If people begin asking questions that suggest they’re concerned a caregiver is truly burnt out they likely see some signs of it. These inquiries should be taken seriously, especially if they come from close family and friends who have intimate knowledge about the situation.
If you’re caring for a senior, assess how you’re doing. You might have a tiring day or feel like just vegging out one evening, but are you regularly displaying one or more of these signs? If you are, seek help and support. You can’t care for someone all on your own. You need to lean on others occasionally and to take care of yourself before you can properly care for your loved one.