As your caregiving duties gradually increase, the symptoms of overload can slowly sneak up on you. In fact, you might not recognize any trouble until you reach the point where you are overwhelmed and burned out. Sometimes, caregivers can experience a health crisis of their own before they realize anything is wrong.
Caregiver burnout is defined as “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude—from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.”
How to Recognize the Early Signs of Caregiver Burnout
The common signs of caregiver overload can include:
● Feelings of sadness and despair
● Quick to anger
● Easily tearful
● Unintended change in weight
● Loss of appetite
● Change in sleep habits, (i.e., sleeping too much or too little)
● Lack of interest in your favorite activities
● Withdrawing from socializing with friends and family
● Relying on alcohol, cigarettes, or medication to cope
● Frequent colds and illnesses
● Emotional and/or physical exhaustion
4 Tips to Help Caregivers Manage Stress
If more than one or two of the signs outlined above sound familiar, it might be time to take a step back and take some time for yourself to get on a healthier track.
- Talk to a loved one: Being able to talk through your thoughts and concerns about caregiving can help relieve stress. Most caregivers live with the guilt and fear that they aren’t doing a good job managing all of their responsibilities. Sometimes, having a loved one remind you of your successes as a caregiver can help you put things in perspective.
- Commit to self-care: Caregivers are notorious for putting their own needs at the bottom of their priority list. But you will actually be a better caregiver if you commit to taking care of yourself. That means scheduling a physical, getting back on track with routine health screenings, eating a better diet, and making time for exercise. Doing so might require you to set new priorities and ask for help from others. One resource that can help you take care of your own wellbeing is respite care. This could mean a short-term stay at a senior living community or enlisting a home care agency for a few hours a week.
- Meditate: The simple practice of learning how to focus the mind and breathe deeply can also help you manage stress. If you aren’t familiar with meditation, smartphone apps like Calm and Aura are good ones to help you get started.
- Join a support group: Connecting with peers who are walking a path similar to your own is another step you can take to prevent caregiver burnout. In addition to sharing hands-on strategies and tips for making your caregiving struggles easier, a support group can also help you manage the emotional issues associated with caring for a loved one. Learn more about caregiver support groups to see how you can take advantage of these invaluable resources.
The aging experts
at Sunrise communities are always happy to answer your questions about caregiving. Call a counselor at (888) 434-4648 today!