What is burnout for caregivers and what are some signs?

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Answered by: Andrea, An Expert in the Healthy Living - General Category
What is Caregiver Burnout and Recognizing the Signs

Burnout for caregivers is a state of emotional, mental or physical exhaustion when providing care for the elderly or sick. You may find yourself going from a generally happy and positive person to one who is moodier, withdrawn and more negative than normal. You may feel short-tempered, fatigued and uninterested in things you normally love to do. Providing care for a sick, infirmed or elderly family member or friend takes a great deal of time and energy and after awhile this takes a toll on the caregiver if they do not take steps to protect and care for themselves.

Knowing what caregiver burnout is and recognizing the signs that you may be experiencing it can help you before it gets overwhelming. As a caregiver, you more than likely know the exact time your loved one gets up, when they need rest, when they need to eat, what medications to take and when they need to be taken, but many caregivers often forget to consider those things for themselves. Look for these signs that you are in need of rest, respite and rejuvenation for yourself.

While it is normal to feel sad or blue at times, especially when facing a possibly terminal illness in one you love, burnout for caregivers is much closer to depression in that those feelings of sadness overwhelm all your other emotions. You may love to go see your son or daughter at their basketball game, school play or playing in a band, but you can’t help shake this inner feeling of sadness. This is a key indicator that you need a desperate break from your everyday routine and that your needs are not being met. You may feel like eating more out of comfort than out of being hungry or you may not have much of an appetite at all. You may find yourself getting angry easier and more so than for what the situation would normally call. You may also feel more anxious for no apparent reason and like your nerves are always on edge. You may also notice that you are deeply fatigued even after a good night of rest. If you recognize any of these signs – first, be sure to check in with your family doctor to rule out any underlying illnesses or conditions that may be contributing and mention to your doctor that you are a caregiver. They can help determine if you are just fighting off a bug or if you are experiencing these signs as a result of stress. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, come up with an action plan to restore your mental and emotional well-being.

You may feel like you come down with every sickness and bug that looks your way. An overly stressed body will have a hard time fighting off illness and you may seem to be sicker and more often than you can ever remember. Stress will not only make you feel more anxious and depressed, but it takes a physical toll on your body after a while as well. It is absolutely essential that you can take of your own health and well-being when providing long-term care for another. You will not do yourself any favors nor the one you are providing care for if you run your health into the dirt. You need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of someone else. Don’t skip out on your own check-ups with your family doctor just because you are too busy running your loved one to all of their doctor appointments.

Caregiver burnout is very much real, but if you take the necessary precautions, you can ensure that both you and your loved one are well taken care of and enjoying a good quality of life.

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