You’ve been doing it all—taking mom to her doctor’s appointments, making sure she eats healthy meals, and keeping her yard under control. Being a caregiver is rewarding, but it can take a toll on your well being if you’re not careful. Can you remember the last time you went to dinner with friends? Have you seen your doctor lately for a check-up? Did you exercise this week?
If you answered no to one—or all—of the above, you may be headed toward caregiver burnout.
What is caregiver burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. It happens when a caregiver takes on too many responsibilities. Caregivers who are burned out often feel tired, moody, anxious, depressed, and stressed. But even more critically, caregiver burnout is unhealthy for both the caregiver and the care receiver.
The good news? Caregiver burnout is easy to spot and alleviate. Here are the top four signs you’re burning out and what to do about it.
Common signs of caregiver burnout
1. You don’t enjoy things like you used to
While some people chalk it up to a change in personality, falling out of love with things you once enjoyed can be a sign you’re burning out. You may be too tired, feel like you don’t have time, or simply feel guilty for spending time away from your loved one.
How to fix: Be intentional and carve out uninterrupted time for yourself several times a week, if not every day. If you really don’t have the free time, consider respite care to help with your caregiving load.
2. You’re getting sick more often
As a caregiver, it’s natural to feel stressed. But high stress levels can lower your immune system and cause you’re eating, sleeping, and exercising habits to change which makes catching a cold more likely. The good news is, you can boost your body’s defenses to keep the sickness at bay.
How to fix: Assess what a healthy person your age should be eating for proper nutrition, how much you should be sleeping, and how much exercise you should be getting. Create a healthy living plan and stick to it. Plus, don’t forget to schedule regular checkups with your doctor like you would for your loved one.
3. You’re unable to concentrate on easy tasks
We’ve all misplaced our keys or phone, but if it’s happening a few times a week, you may have too much on your mind. When there is a lot going on, our brains tend to forget little details. This can become a problem if you can’t remember doctor’s appointments or whether you gave your loved one their medication for the day.
How to fix: It’s better to do a few things well than to do everything poorly. Create a to-do list with check boxes and methodically go through each item. After all, how else will you remember to go to that doctor’s appointment, cook dinner, fold the laundry, and go through all the healthcare paperwork?
4. You’re feeling hopeless or angry with your loved one
Emotions run high when roles are reversed and loved ones who used to take care of us need taking care of themselves. It’s natural to feel a bit sad with all the changes that are happening, but if you’re experiencing overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and anger, find support. Whether it’s physical support with caregiving duties or emotional support for yourself, there are many options available.
How to fix: First of all, make sure you haven’t set the bar too high for yourself. Yes, it would be great to go above and beyond in caring for your loved one, but it’s just not feasible. Talk to your doctor about outside options and consider joining a caregiver support group.
When you’re taken care of, your loved one will be, too. Let Home Care by ALTRES Medical help you keep stress down. We offer respite care to help with this exact problem.
Here’s how it works. You tell us what you need help with, we create customized care plan for your loved one. Our licensed caregivers can provide services from a few days a week to 24 hours a day for few weeks. Call us today at (808) 591-4930 to schedule a free consultation.