Caregiver burnout is the product of long-term stress. It is the mental exhaustion that caregivers feel when they are overwhelmed by their responsibilities. It often occurs when caregivers take on too much, or when they have no help. It is a common problem since caregiving is so often done alone. Isolated from the world and with no help from other family members, it is not surprising that caregivers often burn out.
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Signs of Caregiver Burnout
One of the first signs of caregiver burnout is often a change in the caregiver's attitude. You may see a shift from a positive attitude to a more negative one. Burned out caregivers may lash out more often, or even be neglectful of the person under their care.
Caregivers suffering from burnout may have trouble sleeping at night, or they may start oversleeping on a regular basis. Other issues include disrupted sleep patterns such as dream disturbances and nightmares.
Withdrawal From Loved Ones
Caregivers suffering from burnout often are not interested in interacting with people, including their closest family members and friends.
Dramatic Mood Swings
The mix of being emotionally and physically exhausted can result in sudden swings of emotion. A caregiver may feel enraged in one moment and sad the next.
You Get Sick Frequently
Stress can weaken your immune system, which means that you can become extremely vulnerable to infections from viruses and bacteria in your environment. If you seem to be sick all the time, this could be an indication of caregiver burnout.
How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
Talk to Someone
Share your thoughts with a professional therapist or even a co-worker, friend, or family member. Expressing your feelings to another person can sometimes relieve stress and lead to finding solutions.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Your diet, along with the amount of exercise and sleep that you get are important for alleviating the stress and exhaustion that can cause caregiver burnout.
Consider a Retirement Community
A retirement community can prevent caregiver burnout by providing your loved one with a higher level of care than you can deliver at home. If you burn out, you will not be able to care for your loved one to the extent that they need. In other words, caring for them involves caring for yourself. A part of that is realizing when being a caregiver is too much for you.
Learning how to avoid burnout can make you a better caregiver and help you to get more enjoyment from your role. Use the tips above as your guide for protecting your physical and mental health.