Tips on How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

A senior woman is embraced be her daughter from behind as they pose for the camera

Caregiving can be richly rewarding, but it is no small responsibility. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP report that 1 in 4 primary caregivers spend more than 40 hours a week providing care, and the average duration of a caregiver’s role is four years. This level of time commitment combined with the fact that 46% of caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks — many with no formal training — can lead to stress, fatigue and, ultimately, caregiver burnout.
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What Is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion — physical, mental and emotional — that occurs over time and results from the high levels of stress a person may feel from the constant responsibility of caregiving. Burnout usually occurs when the primary caregiver feels consumed by their duties and finds themselves unsupported or underappreciated.

What Are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?

Everyone gets stressed or overwhelmed at times, so what’s the difference between temporary frustration and burnout? These are some tell-tale signs a primary caregiver may experience:

  • Health problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Becoming more impatient or irritable
  • Overwhelming fatigue

The signs of caregiver burnout may look slightly different for each individual, but if you’ve experienced several of these symptoms, you may want to seek help for caregiver burnout.

Can You Avoid Burnout?

Absolutely. There are many organization and self-care methods that can provide the support primary caregivers require.

  • Create a support system for yourself and your loved one.
    Ask family and friends for help with the tasks of caregiving. You can set up a schedule for people to come be with your loved one while you run errands, see a movie, fit in a workout or just quietly read a book. Even with just a few added caregivers, you can create some much-needed time in your schedule to focus on yourself.
  • Put technology to use.
    Depending on your loved one’s condition, look into what sort of technological advances could help lighten your burden and allow you to feel more confident being away from the house. For example, there are great apps like Care Zone and Lotsa Helping Hands that can help you organize your loved one’s care information and share it with their care team. There are other apps like Medisafe or MyMeds that can help with medication management. You can find smartwatches and activity trackers that will alert you if your loved one falls or wanders.
  • Take care of your own health.
    It’s common for caregivers to neglect their own needs because they’re so busy taking care of their loved one. But your well-being is equally important. As much as possible, make sure you’re eating healthy food — good nutrition provides needed energy and improves mood. Drink plenty of water to avoid headaches and fatigue caused by dehydration. Exercise regularly to relieve stress and improve cognition. Make time to attend all your necessary doctors’ appointments. And finally, get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps your immune system, reduces your risk of depression, and can lower your blood pressure.
  • Speak to someone.
    Caregivers have a lot on their plates, and beyond the everyday tasks they juggle, they have to deal with a wide range of emotions, their own feelings, and those of their loved one. Routine meetings with a licensed therapist can offer the support to help you process the emotional side of care. Another great option is to speak with other caregivers — people who understand the rewards and challenges you experience every day. Find a community of people uniquely qualified to offer suggestions, perspective, or just a sympathetic ear. We offer caregiver support groups at Rolling Green Village because we know the kind of dedication it takes to provide care, and we want you to know you’re not alone.
  • Consider senior living.
    If caregiving simply becomes too much — physically, mentally or emotionally — senior living offers a great opportunity to ensure your loved one receives the health care they need and the social opportunities, activities and lifestyle they deserve. If you feel reservations based on outdated notions of senior living, conduct some research, or speak with community team members to see how welcoming, supportive and vibrant communities can be.

To find out more about our caregiver support groups at Rolling Green Village, or to discover more about our senior living community in Greenville, SC., reach out to us. A member of our team will be happy to provide you with more details.