In a 2020 AARP report, only 33 percent of family caregivers report that they do not hold a part-time or full-time job in addition to helping an aging adult. That means around 7 out of 10 family caregivers have to balance their careers with being a caregiver. It leaves little time for socialization and self-care.
How well are you managing your busy schedule? Do you have caregiver burnout? Could you have it and not realize it? Here’s everything you need to know about burnout.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a condition where mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion sets in. It occurs in people who spend a good portion of their day and night caring for someone else, and the help they offer is often too much for them to handle on their own.
Sometimes, caregiver burnout occurs because a family member feels guilty telling an elderly parent no. Instead of spending time on their own needs, these family caregivers stop doing things for themselves and focus on doing things for others. It can also occur when a family caregiver does more than is physically, mentally, or financially possible.
What are the signs of caregiver burnout? There are several. One is a change in sleep patterns. You may start sleeping more than usual or waking in the middle of the night and finding it impossible to get back to sleep.
If you find yourself pulling away from your friends and family members, that’s another sign. You no longer are interested in socializing, so you start making excuses to avoid gatherings or social events. As time goes on, those friends may stop reaching out, which only adds to your emotional frustration.
You may find yourself feeling hopeless. You can’t see a point in going on, and depression sets in. You might have thoughts of harming yourself if the depression and hopelessness go unchecked. You may even start thinking about hurting your parent, leading to anger and irritation that affects your relationships.
You become tired and exhausted at all hours. If you’re not getting enough sleep, that will worsen things. In turn, that can impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses like a common cold.
What Do You Do to Stop Caregiver Burnout?
If you feel that you have caregiver burnout, talk to your doctor. You need to see a therapist who specializes in this common issue. You’re not the first person to feel overwhelmed as a family caregiver, and it helps to have someone to talk to.
It often helps to join a caregiver support group. Surround yourself with others who know exactly how you feel. They may have suggestions that can help you ease some of the stress and responsibility you have a hard time managing.
It’s Time to Take a Break
If you suspect you have caregiver burnout, it’s time to focus on yourself. Hire professional caregivers to give yourself a break from time to time. Caregivers can stop by, keep your parents company, cook meals, and help with many other aspects of care. Call a specialist and discuss caregivers and their prices.