As of 2020, 53 million Americans provide unpaid care to adults who need medical care or help with daily activities. More than one in five Americans are caring for adults. Caregivers may not have the support they need to protect their mental health and physical well-being.
If you’re experiencing emotional and physical exhaustion, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing caregiver burnout. Knowing the different stages of caregiver burnout and the symptoms that go with it could help you recognize what’s happening and help you seek the support you deserve.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
If caregivers aren’t caring for their physical, mental, and social health, then they can experience feelings of stress, frustration, and despair. If you’ve ever heard the expression, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” this perfectly embodies the complexity of caregiver burnout. A caregiver can’t provide the support their loved one needs because they’re not taking care of themselves. This leads to caregiver burnout.
Even the most committed caregivers who aim to give their loved one the best care possible can experience burnout if they don’t allow themselves to rest.
Unfortunately, many caregivers may view seeking help as selfish, preventing them from getting the care they need, which allows the stages of caregiver burnout to progress.
What Are the Stages of Caregiver Burnout?
There are three stages to caregiver burnout:
Stress and Frustration
Taking on the role of caregiver is a monumental task. Even among family members, it’s often one family caregiver who provides most of the care.
Their selflessness is admirable, but when caring for someone like an elderly parent, seeing setbacks or the decline of their parents’ health can cause feelings of stress and frustration.
Some caregivers may feel their loved one’s condition may be a reflection of their care. However, caregivers could do everything possible for their loved one and still see a decline. This isn’t because of the caregiver’s ability. Their loved one’s health may decline because their illness or disease is progressing.
Burnout and Isolation
When the stress and frustration progress, the caregiver can reach burnout. They’re not reaching out to friends and family and are having trouble taking care of themselves – which means they are likely struggling to support their loved one as well.
Some caregivers may lose their sense of purpose. This can happen because the amount of time and effort they put into caregiving can go unnoticed by others. In some cases, others may criticize their efforts.
Compassion fatigue is secondary traumatic stress that occurs when a caregiver’s empathy for their loved one causes a stress response. Caregivers who don’t take time to attend to their emotional health can develop compassion fatigue.
When caregivers experience compassion fatigue, they’ve been in a state of burnout for a long time. The stress and tension of being the sole caregiver for their loved one are now causing feelings of despair.
All this turmoil can translate to a decrease in empathy, which can affect the quality of caregiving.
Caregiver fatigue can be so overwhelming, and caregivers may struggle to find their way back to feeling energized and ready to empower their loved one.
What Are the Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout?
Caregivers who experience burnout may not recognize that they have symptoms of burnout. Common symptoms revolve around stress and fatigue,
Stress and Frustration Symptoms
- Lack of sleep/difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Consistent headaches and other physical pain
- Feeling worried
- Easily losing patience
- Issues with memory and concentration
Burnout and Isolation Symptoms
- Lack of energy
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Inability to relax and rest
- Depending on caffeine for sources of energy
- Experiencing resentment
Compassion Fatigue Symptoms
- Feeling exhausted
- Turning away from activities you previously enjoyed
- Digestive issues
- Feeling helpless or hopeless all the time
How To Cope With Caregiver Burnout
The most important thing to remember is burnout isn’t permanent. There are multiple ways for you to take steps to recover from burnout.
- Seek Help. Accepting help from others is the first step to recovery. Help from family and friends with everyday things could take care of small tasks, but having them off your plate could relieve a great deal of stress.
- Connect. Caregiver support groups can help you discuss your feelings with people who understand what you’re going through. You may also learn about other resources available to caregivers in these circles.
- Tend to Your Personal Health. Seeing a doctor about your physical health and a counselor or therapist about your mental health could help you make a plan to maintain your well-being.
- Set up Time for You. Whether it’s taking a day to read a book, catch up with a friend, or go for a walk outside, you need to have time to take care of yourself. This allows you to rest and regain your energy.
How Can Respite Care Help Caregivers?
Respite care is short-term care that will take care of your loved one at a senior living community, day center, or in your loved one’s home. You can turn to respite care when you have an afternoon of important appointments or when you’re taking a few days for a vacation.
For longer stays away from home, respite care at a senior living community is your best option. Your loved one will have experienced and compassionate professionals to provide them with care, engaging activities, and companionship in a secure environment. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your loved one is safe so you can take a break and rest.
Call Charles E. Smith Life Communities to learn about the respite care services available.
Charles E. Smith Life Communities Is Here for Caregivers
Charles E. Smith Life Communities will help answer your questions, provide support, and give you the information you need to provide your loved one with the best care.
There are many types of care offered at Charles E. Smith Life Communities. One of the services that can help caregivers provide care for their loved one is SmithLife Homecare.
SmithLife Homecare offers personal care services, companionship services, and Independence Plus! services, which can help your loved one with their everyday needs and be a trusted source of comfort and support.
Call or contact us to schedule a tour of Charles E. Smith Life Communities and make an informed decision that will ensure the future you and your loved ones prefer.