There often comes a phase in your life where you have to sacrifice your personal time and care for a loved one. It could be a grandparent nearing the end stages of life with Alzheimer’s or dementia or a loved one in active addiction facing challenges taking care of themselves.
Supporting a care recipient can come with many ups and downs. Although the adjustment phase can be difficult for the patient to cope with, the caregiver’s daily schedule can be changed quite a bit. This can cause a great deal of stress that may unfortunately lead to caregiver burnout.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
According to the National Library of Medicine 2019, caregiver burnout can be viewed as a tridimensional syndrome that comes from the stress that the caregiving perspective may exemplify. A caregiver may experience emotional exhaustion that often comes with feelings of excess burden.
Caregiver burnout can make a person want to give up on helping due to emotionally feeling drained. The caregiver may unintentionally feel detached from the person being cared for. Feelings of accomplishment may not feel as strong until the care recipient is deceased. This is why getting help is crucial. It is essential to be your best self; therefore, the care recipient does not feel like a burden in your care.
Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
When we are consumed with caring for another person in need, it can be easy to forget to care for ourselves. We become oblivious to our own mental or physical health conditions. It is essential to watch out for the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout. This allows us to provide better support to the care recipient.
Caregiver burnout or caregiver stress symptoms are very similar to stress and depression. This includes:
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities due to feelings of guilt for stepping away
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and other loved ones
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Low immune system
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Feeling irritable, helpless, and hopeless
- Changes in appetite
The Effects of Caregiving
Long-term stress of any kind can lead to severe health problems. Some of the ways stress can affect a caregiver include:
- Anxiety and depression: Females are more likely than men to develop mental conditions. Psychiatric impairment can often lead to heart disease and stroke.
- Weight loss or gain: Stress can make a person more likely to eat more for comfort. Caring for others can also make us forget to eat on our own.
- Memory loss and decreased focus: A caregiver that is watching over a spouse with Alzheimer’s may be at higher risk for problems with memory. Lack of sleep can make it difficult for a caregiver to focus as well.
- Increased risk of early death: Exhaustion can wear on your physical health over time, increasing the chance of early death.
Although caregiver burnout comes with extremely exhausting and alarming health effects, it is essential to recognize the positive effects of caregiving. Caregiving can provide the following:
- A sense of fulfillment and self-worth
- Feelings of being useful and needed
- Appreciation for life
- Networking with other professionals to further education
Where to Find Help
A person caring for another in need may feel it is challenging to step away and seek help. Time just may not be there. We all must find treatment solutions for any condition, whether minor or critical. A healthy you is the best gift you can give to anyone.
One option is to find outside support and help for the person you care for. If you are caring for someone in active addiction, it is vital for their health and yours that they find a treatment program.
Joining a support group and sharing your story with others in similar situations may be highly beneficial. Staying organized and setting a daily routine can be helpful. This can make your day-to-day less stressful if you are needed to help someone on call. Taking time for yourself is imperative to decompress from the pressure and workload of caring for a loved one. Laying in a warm bath, walking a nature trail, or grabbing lunch with a friend can provide significant relief. This allows you to recharge to watch the care recipient with the best attitude possible.
Some resources can provide professional respite services. This provides you with the much-needed extra time to take care of yourself. Do not forget to ask for assistance from family or friends. They may be able to help you grab groceries or run errands while you are busy caring for others. Speaking to a therapist can give you plenty of options. This allows you to vent and gain a different perspective on your challenges in the caregiving journey.
Caregiver burnout can lead to health problems. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms that stress can bring on the individual providing support for others. Here at Grace Recovery TX, we are happy to provide the assistance needed to gain your own identity back and help the person you are caring for find their own healing. Our facility can provide you and your loved one with an opportunity for relief. Our goal is to help you find peace through trust, as we become caregivers. We welcome you with full support to make your transition easy, and successful. If you need professional assistance, there is help available. To get more information about our services, call (737) 237-9663.